Saturday, April 13, 2013

Coaches Gone Wild

The video of former Rutgers men basketball coach, Mike Rice, physically abusing and berating the players in a torrent of obscenities and homophobic slurs, has left us horrified and Rutgers in the midst of a huge media firestorm.  After the hidden footage was aired on ESPN it didn’t take long for it to go viral.  Soon enough, it had flooded the waves of social media and with that alone, Rutgers had already found itself neck-deep in a PR crisis. 

The video, showing footage from 2012, had been brought to the attention of Rutgers Athletic Director, Tim Pernetti, last November. Rice’s punishment was anything but harsh: a three-game suspension and a stint in anger management classes.  Within the past few months, Rutgers made the huge mistake by biding their time and praying this would all blow-over.  

Flash forward to April where Rutgers promptly fired Rice as the scandal rippled through the campus and beyond.  A suitable course of action, but one that critics are calling a “Public Relations Band-Aid:” a temporary solution after the damage has been done.  

So what could have Rutgers done differently?  Some PR pros are commending Rutgers for being so prompt to fire Rice after coverage of the incident exploded.  However, most agree that it’s a case of too little, too late.  There is an ethical standard of giving the worthy punishment when it punishment is due that Rutgers failed to reach.  Had they taken the appropriate course of action and fired Rice when the footage was first brought to the Rutgers Athletic Director’s attention, they might be one head coach poorer but they could have avoided the even greater negative impact on its reputation. 

What’s your opinion on the Rutgers Basketball scandal? Let us know!

This guest blog post was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Cara Graeff.

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