by AJ Gold and Jake Katz
Former UCLA basketball Coach and Basketball Hall of Fame inductee John Wooden once said, “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”
Unfortunately, the words of coach Wooden did not resonate with former Rutgers’ men’s basketball coach Mike Rice, who was fired for physically harming his players as well as berating them with profanities. Nor did it resonate with newly hired Rutgers Athletic Director Julie Hermann, who has recently been exploited for abusing her players when she was the coach of the volleyball team at the University of Tennessee.
Coaches everywhere need to take note of what is being exposed at Rutgers and ensure that their players aren’t receiving the same condescending treatment. Coaches need to know their line of decency, but more importantly they should know not to cross it.
According to ESPN’s Outside the Lines, former player under Rice, Tyree Graham expressed how most Rutgers players went into a “shell” as a result of Rice’s actions. Not only is verbal abuse from a coach hurtful, it is also highly ineffective.
In a recent study conducted by Clemson University, 130 collegiate student athletes were exposed to a narrative of a verbally aggressive coach. According to usatoday.com, “The researchers found that athletes negatively [reacted] to the verbally aggressive narrative, being less motivated by that kind of coach and also questioning the coach's credibility.
”This scandal at Rutgers has not only had an effect on the university, but on the state as a whole as well. In a poll conducted by usatoday.com, 82 percent of New Jersey agreed that Rice deserved to be fired.According to CNN, Julie Hermann verbally abused her players by calling them names such as “mentally disabled,” among a myriad of other vulgarities. Herman tried to justify her coaching styles with the fact that she led her team to its first NCAA tournament berth in a decade, but coaching like this is never tolerable regardless of the results.
This lack of compassion displayed by Hermann is a microcosm of the effects coaches can have on their players with a lack of positive reinforcement.
To make matters worse, Rutgers President Robert Barchi endorsed Hermann as the new AD when he said, “She is the best person for the position,” said Barchi. By referring to Hermann as the best person for the position, Barchi is indirectly ignoring the effect abusive coaches can have on their players.
Coaching is a profession with many responsibilities, and the fact that coaches are ignoring the responsibility to improve their players both as athletes and people is inexcusable.As a result of all of the scandal at Rutgers, something needs to be done. Coaches and players everywhere should be taking note of what is occurring at the university. Ultimately, coaches should ensure that these types of actions shouldn’t be tolerated at any level of athletics, as its effects can be detrimental to not only the players, but the coaches responsible as well.