Coach Thomas Kelly of the Atlantic City High School football team, a Rutgers University graduate, watched the video of Scarlet Knights men's basketball coach Mike Rice mistreating players and was embarrassed.
Coach Paul Rodio of the St. Augustine Prep boys basketball team looked at the video and saw a coach that lost it.
Both coaches say the incident will probably cause all in their profession to re-examine how they treat players. In these days of Twitter and cellphone cameras, coaches are always being watched.
"This will absolutely make coaches think twice and look over their shoulders and think twice about what they're saying to these kids," Kelly said.
"I hope it doesn't hurt the game. What we're trying to do around here is find different ways to get to kids and motivate them."
While Rice may have been trying to motivate his players, Rodio and Kelly both saw a coach who crossed the fine line of getting players mentally prepared to play and became abusive.
"He stepped over the line. It was a guy who lost control," Rodio said. "Many of us coaches - college, high school - 80 percent of us have stepped near the line. You get caught up in the action. But you can't step over that line. You can't do the things he did."
ESPN aired video clips on April 2 of Rice pushing players and using abusive language toward them. The video also showed Rice throwing basketballs at players' heads. The clips created a national controversy. Rutgers fired Rice on April 3.
Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti saw the video in December and chose to fine Rice $50,000 and suspend him three games. The video created such a firestorm last week that Pernetti was forced to resign April 5. John Wolf, a lawyer who had been serving in an interim basis as Rutgers' top in-house lawyer, resigned Thursday after approving the decision to suspend rather than fire Rice.
The school's Board of Governors also met and announced that the university will hire a lawyers to do an independent review and that the board intends to learn how to better govern from the lessons in the report.
Kelly and Pernetti played football together at Rutgers in the early 1990s.
"Around here we know how tough it is to coach kids," Kelly said. "We try to get the most out of kids. It's a juggling act. You have to be intense. We care about this game so much. But at the same time we have to understand these are 16-, 17- and 18-year-old kids."
Rodio is the winningest boys basketball coach in South Jersey history with 781 career wins in his 36 seasons. Kelly, a 1997 Rutgers graduate, took over the Atlantic City football program in 2010 and has led the Vikings to three straight playoff appearances.
Both Rodio and Kelly are intense coaches who demand a lot of their players.
Kelly said he reviews his behavior at practice every day.
"Often times I say, 'I wish I would have handled that better,' " he said.
Both Rodio and Kelly said coaches just can't yell at players. They have to develop a relationship and friendship with players that extends beyond practices. On Wednesday, Rodio joked with his players as they watched a St. Augustine Prep baseball game.
"The key is to let the kids know that you love them," Kelly said. "That's the overwhelming thing we try to get through to the kids. Sometimes it takes a conversation with a kid the next day to let him know where things are coming from."
Kelly knows what it's like to be a player who has an angry coach in his face. Kelly went through a coaching change when he played at Rutgers.
"The coaches that came in weren't the guys that recruited me," he said. "They were extra in your face. I remembered having feels of resentment toward them. That does temper me now because I do remember."
There is a sentiment among some in the sports world that Rice just got caught and he's not the only coach to act like that.
Tom Piotrowski, a Port Republic resident, said he's seen coaches throw balls at players, jostle players and be verbally abusive. The 7-foot-1 Piotrowski played at La Salle University in the 1980s and spent a season in the NBA with the Portland Trail Blazers. He's coached locally at Absegami and Atlantic Christian high schools.
"There's a lot of coaches in high school and college who looked at (the Rice video) and said, 'Hmmm, I have to be more careful now,' " Piotrowski said.
Piotrowski pointed out that some coaches, such as former college basketball coach Bobby Knight, have been celebrated in the past for behavior that Rice showed. That usually happens as long as the coach's team wins.
"We as a culture have to stop rewarding (coaches) who misbehave like this," Piotrowski said. "We have to stop saying we're entertained by this. This is serious. It affects young men and young women."
But coaches still have to coach. And today's coaches - just like their counterparts from the past - want to make practices tough and demanding as they can so the games are easier. Coaches want to make their players mentally tough.
"Any good coach has to adapt," Rodio said. "It's 2013 and things are different. If you can't adapt, then you should go do something else. But at the same token you have to get your team ready. But you can't cross the line."
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