RMU: Internal inquiry finds little to support claims of brawling under Mike Rice

Robert Morris athletic director Craig Coleman said today that only limited evidence exists that suggests players and coaches brawled during the tenure of former men's basketball coach Mike Rice.

Coleman's statement was released after the university conducted an internal inquiry into claims made by former Rutgers assistant Eric Murdock that fights between players and coaches happened in Rice's time at Robert Morris -- information Murdock said came from Rice and former Robert Morris assistant coach Jimmy Martelli.

Rutgers fired Rice last week after video of the coach screaming at players with homophobic slurs and shoving them became public.

A total of 17 people were interviewed as a part of the investigation.

Five of those players are current members of the Colonials team that played for Rice, seven were former players, four of whom left the university during Rice's tenure. Also interviewed were three current and former members of the Robert Morris coaching staff and two members of the athletic training staff.

Coleman said he found one former player, among those who transferred out of the program, who said that Rice directed homophobic slurs at players and "once or twice" threw basketballs in the direction of a player.

That player added that he once saw Rice and a player shoving each other in the locker room at halftime. The player named in that incident vehemently denied any such encounter, according to Coleman's statement.

No practice tape was available to be reviewed as a part of the investigation.

Under Rice and current coach Andy Toole, practices are only recorded in the lead up to the Colonials' first scrimmage, after which it is thrown out.

"This may be as close as we can get to the truth of what was experienced here five years ago," Coleman said in the statement. "Despite a vast majority of evidence refuting these suspicions, we feel duty-bound to report fully on what we have learned.

"We are distressed to hear about even one account of inappropriate behavior towards any of our players. Whether corroborated or not, we must use this as an opportunity to reaffirm that RMU does not -- and will not -- tolerate abusive behavior. We will continue to do all that is possible to ensure that players and coaches act and are treated with mutual respect going forward."

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Craig Meyer: cmeyer@post-gazette.com and on Twitter: @craig_a_meyer. First Published April 9, 2013 4:15 AM


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