Published May 03, 2010
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Mike Rice, whose Robert Morris team lost in overtime to Villanova in the first round of the NCAA tournament, has agreed to become the coach at Rutgers.
The school plans to introduce Rice at a news conference later this week, a person familiar with the hiring told The Associated Press on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made.
Rice replaces Fred Hill, who resigned two weeks ago after agreeing to a settlement that avoided a bitter court battle. The Scarlet Knights were 47-77 under Hill in four seasons, including a 13-57 record in the Big East.
Rutgers had threatened to fire Hill because of a number of issues, including some related to his involvement in an incident at a Scarlet Knights' baseball game against Pittsburgh on April 1. His father, Fred Hill, coaches the Rutgers baseball team.
Rice, the Northeast Conference Coach of the Year the last two seasons, agreed to a contract extension last month that would have kept him at Robert Morris through the 2016-17 season.
Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti did not immediately return a telephone message left by the AP seeking comment.
Rice led Robert Morris to the last two NCAA tournaments and the Colonials scared ninth-ranked Villanova in this season's opening round before losing 73-70 in overtime.
Rice, who took Robert Morris to the NIT in 2008, will take over a team with little talent and big holes. Guard Mike Rosario, the Scarlet Knights' leading scorer the past two seasons, is transferring to Florida. Hamady Ndiaye, the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, graduated from the team that went 15-17 last season, including 5-13 in the conference.
Assistant Darren Savino has served as the interim head coach since Hill resigned.
There were calls for Hill's firing after the season. However, Pernetti decided to give Hill another year to turn the program around, in part because it helped the school avoid a $1.6 million buyout.
Things changed on April 1 when Hill yelled obscenities at coaches from Pittsburgh after a baseball game at Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights had just defeated the Panthers.
A Pittsburgh school official complained to Pernetti and he told Hill to stay away from the Rutgers-Pittsburgh game the rest of that week, but he disobeyed the order.
Among those considered for the position were former Philadelphia 76ers coach and Rutgers alum Eddie Jordan, former Boston College coach Al Skinner and former Manhattan, St. John's and New Mexico coach Fran Fraschilla, who is currently working for ESPN.
Rice was an assistant coach at Fordham, where he also played point guard, Marquette, Niagara, Chicago State, Saint Joseph's and Pittsburgh.