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Ex-Rutgers coach Rice denies abuse

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Nov 07 2013 09:42:56 AM CST
Mike Rice

Bill Kostroun/Reuters

Former Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice spoke for the first time to the media since he was fired in April for his behavior and said he never abused his players.

The 44-year-old Rice was removed from his job after video aired by ESPN's Outside the Lines showed him berating players during practice.

"Everything I've ever done is fight, scratch and claw," Rice told The New York Times Magazine in an interview, "and now I have to sit back and take it, listen to people say I was abusing my players? I was an idiot, but I never abused anybody."

Rice also was interviewed by ABC's 20/20 and did not make excuses for his behavior, which included the use of homophobic slurs and hurling balls at players. He said he has changed his behavior after spending time in rehab and traveling during the summer with former NBA player John Lucas, who runs an athlete aftercare program in Houston.

"When you look at those moments, they're ugly moments, there's no way of describing them any way else," Rice said. "Once every 20 practices doesn't make it that way every day."

With the college basketball season set to begin this week, Rice is on the sideline and finds it hard to ignore the reality of his actions.

"Having that taken away, your dream job ... and having it done in such a visible way ... and hurting the people closest to me ... it changes a person," Rice told ABCNews.com. "My first reaction, when I saw the tape was one of embarrassment, of shock, of sadness."

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