Local coaches, players, administrators react to Rutgers basketball situation

In the wake of the scandal at Rutgers University that resulted in men's basketball coach Mike Rice losing his job after video was released of him physically and verbally abusing his players, the Times asked local coaches, players and administrators about Rice and about what is acceptable coaching behavior in 2013.

Dave Byers

Position: Winters Mill boys basketball assistant

Sports background: Longtime boys basketball head coach at Westminster

"I don't think there are too many coaches who haven't grabbed a shirt and moved a player. You aren't taking a hold of them to hurt them, but taking a hold of them to move them. There was never a time when Rice chested up to a kid and the kid went back at him. That wasn't true of the assistant coach. I thought that was a hell of a lot more confrontational. He came back at the kid.

"We are so sensitive about anything that is said. Regardless of what words you use or phrases you are pissing someone off. Coaches are prone to be flamboyant and prone to say things that are a little bit on the rougher edge. But in today's time, you can't be physical like that."


Jamion Christian

Position: Mount St. Mary's head basketball coach

Sports background: Mount St. Mary's basketball player

"This is probably a pretty isolated situation. I'm sure they were trying to establish a culture of physical play. Of tough play. [But] you never put your hands on players in a violent way. You can never do that.

"You either coach the way you were coached or you coach the way you wish you were coached. I was very fortunate. I played for coaches like Jim Phelan that I had a lot of respect for.

"Mike has always been a great guy to me. Just a tough situation. Wow. You think about his family and you also think about his staff."

Ed DeVincent

Position: Liberty athletic director

Sports Background: Former soccer coach

"It's one thing being intense and loud and another to be degrading. I think any time you degrade an individual, that type of abuse is unacceptable and there is no line there.

"Mike Rice went above and beyond that line. I was always a pretty intense coach, but what Mike Rice did was going beyond intensity. I can't imagine throwing a basketball at a kid's head. If that type of abuse was going on at one of our high schools, I think all the Carroll County athletic directors would meet with administration immediately and that person would probably be removed quickly.

"Some of the coaches I had growing up just considered it discipline. the way society has changed, things that coaches could do 20-25 years ago, they wouldn't even come close to getting away with now."


Heather DeWees

Position: Manchester Valley girls basketball coach

Sports background: Mount St. Mary's women's basketball player

"I don't believe what happened at Rutgers is acceptable in any arena. I wouldn't want that for my child, I wouldn't want that for my team as a player. As a coach, I can't ever imagine doing that to kids I care about in that way.

"Yeah, I've been cursed. I played eight years of boys basketball. I've had coaches throw chairs in practice, this is when I was younger. I have seen players been called names. But I can tell you at Mount St. Mary's, I never witnessed that.

"I played for a phenomenal coach, Coach [Bill] Sheahan. He is one of the people who have influenced me the most. I tell people he whipped me into shape. He would not tolerate us acting any other way than young women representing Mount St. Mary's.

"I was never cursed at. Nobody ever put their hands on me. Were scholarships threatened? Absolutely. When an institution is paying for your college, they do own you in a lot of ways. But you make that choice as an athlete.

"You make that choice to want to be pushed.How Rutgers was, I can't say that I'd want to be part of that culture."


Makeba Ndifang

Position: South Carroll girls basketball player

Sports background: Times Girls Basketball Player of the Year in 2013

"Raising a voice or yelling, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Everyone has a different way of coaching. Some people like to yell, some people are more quiet. As a player you should never be surprised when your coach raises their voice at you. It's normal if their passionate about the sport.

"But I definitely think there's a line that can be crossed. I definitely think in that situation there was a line crossed.

"There's a [AAU] team where the coach would yell and actually cuss at the players, but it seemed like the players were used to it. I've heard stories about how he would throw chairs and stuff like that."

Randy Pentz

Position: Century athletic director

Sports background: Former football coach

"We are at the high school level and at the high school level there should be no physical contact with the kids whatsoever. I can understand explaining things, but there is no place for that in high school sports.

"The mentality has greatly changed. Even when I played in the late '70s, what was accepted years ago probably shouldn't have been. Just because things were that way then, they shouldn't be that way now. Thinking back over all my years of playing, coaching and being an athletic director, I have never seen it. You are going to be loud sometimes and that is part of the game.

"A lot of coaches I've had coach for me are loud. But I'm listening to what they are saying, not how loud they are saying it."

Jim Rodriguez

Position: County supervisor of athletics

Sports background: Former high school coach, administrator

"The things that transpired at Rutgers, and hopefully everybody will agree, is just totally unacceptable. Not acceptable whatsoever, putting hands on kids, throwing balls at the kids. To me, an investigation would need to be done. The end result is going to be similar to the end result of Coach Rice. That person's no longer working in that capacity.

"I don't believe there is a place for demoralizing, demeaning, or inappropriate language in coaching. Does that mean you can't get excited or you can't raise your voice? No, that's not what I'm saying. But I think that if something is derogatory in nature ... there's not a place for it. I believe you can get that same message, whatever the message is that you need to get across to those young kids, in a positive way."

Brian Tombs

Position: Liberty boys basketball coach

Sports background: Western Maryland College basketball player

"You see the video and it always makes it tough when you just see clips of what happened. Obviously the clips themselves are a little disturbing in the manner that things were handled. You never want to see a coach throwing balls or pushing and shoving. Obviously he must have thought that was a way of motivation.

"From my standpoint, that is something I would be uncomfortable with and obviously most of the nation felt the same way. We're here for the kids, actions like that are not going to go over well. I wouldn't do that to my kids so I wouldn't even think to do it to someone elses.

"To say there weren't physical squabbles with players [at Western Maryland] would be untrue, but there were coaches there to say that was enough. There was never anything done by the coaches that would hurt the players."


Cammeron Woodyard

Position: Basketball player

Sports background: Former Division I men's basketball player at Penn State

"Once you get to the college level, the verbal side of being a coach comes out. You get to see their true personality and how much fire they have behind them. But I've never seen, heard, or have been a part of any coach physically abusing or harassing or even assaulting any player of any sport.

"I wouldn't say I was surprised. The public knew about it. It just was hidden because the coach was only suspended. Coaches, they're into it way more than the players. The players are just going out there and playing with emotion. In a way the coach coaches with emotion, but he got out of hand with it.

"You hear it all the time when players and coaches argue and fight during games. it's just that player and that coach being competitive about something. Sometimes those emotions get the best of you."

Sports editor Bob Blubaugh contributed to this report.

Reach the Times sports department at 410-857-7896 or sports@carrollcountytimes.com.