Rutgers scandal shows college coaches hold too much power

The fallout of the ESPN “Outside the Lines” story regarding Mike Rice and his treatment of his Rutgers men’s basketball players has rightfully ended the coaching tenure of Rice and one of his assistants, Jimmy Martelli.

Rice and Martelli were seen on hours of practice video physically shoving and verbally belittling players, including using homophobic slurs.

While the matter is nowhere near closed, this situation exposes an ugly truth in the world of sports.

Coaches at the NCAA Division I level are given an extreme amount of power.  They control not only the obvious elements such as playing time and roster spots, but also scholarships, which essentially means they control the academic and athletic fates of their student-athletes.

It is easy to say in a machismo-fueled discussion that if you were in the position of a Rutgers basketball player, you would do this or that to Rice – I have said similar things on many occasions.

Three basketball players did transfer out of Rutgers, and there are times on the practice videos when players prepare to fight back against Rice or Martelli, but they are restrained by teammates.

When I take a minute to think about it deeply, like the Rutgers players, I truly do not believe I would be able to fully retaliate.  Rutgers is not a basketball powerhouse by any means, and that might be the only D-I level program those players could play at.

Even more importantly, Rutgers is a decently expensive school, with 2013 tuition rates at $24,485 for New Jersey residents and $37,805 for non-New Jersey residents.  Could a player afford to go to school if he hauled off and struck his coach?

These are the issues that the players wrestled with while being subjected to abuse by their coach.

Athletes are conditioned from an early age to believe what their coach is doing or saying is right and that questioning their coach is an act against the team.  Coaches like Rice abuse this trust to the highest degree.

This situation prompts the question: should coaches control scholarships? Would Rutgers players or any other student-athletes experiencing similar abuse from their coach stay silent if they knew a third party was responsible for their scholarship?

Currently, any time a scholarship is revoked or reduced, the student-athlete is provided the opportunity for a hearing in front of an administrative panel.   However, the hearing sets an 18- to 22-year-old student against a coach who is being paid a handsome salary from the university…who do you think is going to win?

In the end, Rice will most likely not get any coaching opportunities in the foreseeable future, and rightfully so.  But the NCAA must review their scholarship procedures in order to ensure similar abuse does not go unheard of for so long.