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Notes: Coaches say Rutgers incident ‘isolated’

ATLANTA — Jim Boeheim said he could watch no more than 10 seconds of the video that cost Rutgers coach Mike Rice his job. NCAA president Mark Emmert called it “pretty appalling, to say the least.”

Outside of the basketball to be played on Saturday and Monday at the Georgia Dome, the major topic of conversation at the Final Four on Thursday revolved around Rice and the tactics he used to motivate his players — including screaming obscenities and homophobic slurs, and throwing basketballs at them.

“At the least, I think it requires us to have a conversation,” Emmert said. “I don’t want to suggest there’s some immediate policy that can deal with it, because I don’t know what that is.


“But we need to talk with the coaches association, with the ADs, to see what we can do to make sure that young men and women aren’t being exposed to abusive behavior by coaches. That’s just uncalled for and inappropriate.”

As Michigan coach John Beilein put it, “In this day and age, there’s certain lines you’re not going to cross with your student-athletes.”

Rice was fired on Wednesday, a day after video surfaced on ESPN showing the coach running his practices in disturbing fashion.

On Thursday, assistant coach Jimmy Martelli resigned, a Rutgers athletic department spokesman confirmed.

However, junior forward Wally Judge and sophomore forward Austin Johnson said Rice wasn’t the abusive tyrant he appeared to be.

‘‘I feel if people had a chance to see the other portions of practice, or had been at practice, their judgment would not be as severe,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘I am not saying what he did wasn’t wrong, because I do believe it was wrong.

“But it is also tough because it was a highlight reel of his worst moments.’’

Despite other incidents this year in which coaches — including Mike Montgomery at California and Sean Woods at Morehead State — have made physical contact with players — those at the Final Four were unanimous in saying they don’t believe it’s a pervasive problem in college basketball.


“I absolutely do not believe there’s that coaching style going on,” Boeheim said. “I do not. I’ll go out where you probably shouldn’t go — I don’t believe there’s a coach in the country that does that.”

Louisville coach Rick Pitino agreed.

“I don’t think coaches do that,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a coach alive that does that, what you witnessed. I don’t think you have to worry about that . . . I think that’s an isolated incident. It was a very serious, isolated incident.”

Boeheim, who has known Rice for a long time and believes him to be a “very good” coach, said he thinks Rutgers would have played the same or better had he not gone quite so hard at his players.

“I watched 10 seconds of the video,” he said. “I couldn’t watch it, honestly.”

Emmert grilled

Emmert began his press conference with a 17-minute opening statement before taking about 25 minutes of questions from the media at the Georgia World Congress Center, turning alternately combative and disdainful.

“Some of the criticisms about change or what’s going on naturally get leveled at the guy at the top,” Emmert said, when asked whether he was a lightning rod for the issues the NCAA is facing, including allegations of majors designed to keep students eligible, misconduct in the investigation at the University of Miami, and a report of altered grades at Auburn during its 2010 national championship that broke on Wednesday.


Of the Auburn issue, Emmert said, “What there is, is a newspaper story. That’s it.

“We haven’t done anything with that case because we don’t know anything about it.”

USA Today reported this week about Emmert’s history of avoiding blame when institutions where he has worked have come under investigation.

“If you’re going to launch a change agenda, you’ve got to be willing to deal with criticism,” Emmert said. “So, OK, I deal with criticism.”

Burke, Larranaga honored

Michigan’s Trey Burke won the Associated Press Player of the Year award Thursday. Burke joins Cazzie Russell (1966) as the only Wolverines to win the award. Burke averaged 19.2 points, 6.7 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game. “The whole year he has been just as calm and cool as if he was a fifth-year redshirt senior guard,” Beilein said of the sophomore. Miami coach Jim Larranaga was named the AP coach of the year. The Hurricanes won their first ACC tournament title in addition to the conference regular-season championship, and reached the highest ranking (No. 2) in school history . . . Boeheim was asked how long he might continue coaching, having been the coach at Syracuse since 1976. As he put it, “About 10 years ago, I thought it was my last year. I really did. I’m still here. I learned then not to make that decision. I have no plans on retiring.”


Miami allegations cost job

Western Kentucky announced that former Hilltoppers assistant Jake Morton resigned as director of basketball operations. The NCAA in February accused Morton of three recruiting violations allegedly committed as a Miami assistant between October 2008 and April 2009 . . . The Spokane police department recommended second-degree assault charges against two Southern Cal players they did not name. Starting center Dewayne Dedmon and backup big man James Blasczyk were suspended after a series of fights last month . . . Ed Rush resigned as the Pac-12 Conference’s coordinator of officials following comments he targeted Arizona coach Sean Miller during internal meetings before the league tournament. Conference commissioner Larry Scott said a day earlier Rush made an ‘‘inappropriate joke’’ before the Pac-12 tournament semifinals, offering a group of officials $5,000 for a trip to Cancun if they called a technical foul on Miller . . . Memphis forward-guard Adonis Thomas plans to forego his final two seasons with the Tigers to sign with an agent and declare for the NBA draft.

Baylor takes NIT

Pierre Jackson had his fourth straight double-double with 17 points and 10 assists to lead Baylor (23-14) to its first NIT title in school history with a 74-54 win over Iowa (25-13) in New York.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.