Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice in need of anger management classes
Rutgers coach Mike Rice was finally sacked, six months after his violent and abusive behaviour was first reported.

The world of basketball was in shock after the coach of a top US national team was belatedly fired after being captured on video physically assaulting his players and screaming homophobic and misogynist abuse at them.

Fans are appalled at the apparent reluctance of officials at Rutgers basketball team to sack the coach, despite footage of his violent behaviour being broadcast on the US sports network ESPN.

Coach Mike Rice was originally fined and suspended for three matches, and required to attend anger management classes, after video showing him kicking his players, smashing basketballs against their heads and hurling abuse at them appeared in December.

The footage, taken at practice sessions between 2010 to 2012, went viral this week, piling further pressure on the team's embattled officials.

A national furore has erupted over how officials at the team - known as the Scarlet Knights - handled complaints, with authorities at the New Jersey university it represents giving conflicting accounts this week of who was responsible for their response.

The team's athletic director Tim Pernetti fined Rice $50,000 (£32,850) and suspended him for three games after seeing the video in December. In an interview this week, Pernetti accepted responsibility for the initial decision to fine and suspend Rice, but keep him on.

"I made that decision. I am accountable for it. I have to live with it," he told radio station WAFN. "In the end, I am not going to look back and say shoulda, woulda. All I can do is figure out going forward the decisions I can make to fix the problem for Rutgers."

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie weighed into the debate, with his press secretary, Michael Drewniak, saying: "Governor Christie saw the video today for the first time, and he is obviously deeply disturbed by the conduct displayed and strongly condemns this behaviour.

"It's not the type of leadership we should be showing our young people, and clearly there are questions about this behaviour that need to be answered by the leaders at Rutgers University," said Drewniak.

The video was compiled by Eric Murdock, a former director of player personnel at Rutgers. Murdock's lawyer, Raj Gadhok, said Murdock was informed his contract would not be renewed after he blew the whistle last summer.

Gadhok said Murdock presented the 30-minute video to Pernetti and other Rutgers officials in November. Pernetti conducted an investigation, deciding against further action against Rice the following month.

Murdock announced on Friday he is now suing Rutgers, saying that before he reported Rice's abuse, he had been informed his contract would be renewed.

Pernetti said Rice's homophobic abuse was "at the core" of the decision to suspend him. Many fans, however, were just as shocked by the coach's physical assaults on his players.

Jalen Rose, a basketball analyst for ESPN, posted a message on Twitter saying: "The video of Rutgers H.C. Rice abusing players is appalling! He should be fired ASAP."

Attempts by the university authorities to draw a line under the scandal have only inflamed the situation further.

It has since emerged that the circle of people who had seen the video was wider than initially thought, and included members of the university's board of governors.

Rice was finally fired on Wednesday, but the belated decision did little to stop the rot.

An internal university report into the matter described Rice as "passionate, energetic and demanding" and concluded that his behavior constituted "permissible training". The report said Rice's aim had been to "cause them to play better during the team's basketball games."

"While sometimes unorthodox, politically incorrect, or very aggressive, his methods were within the bounds of proper conduct and training methods," the report added.

The president of Rutgers, Robert Barchi, blamed the decision not to sack Rice on Pernetti and other senior officials who he said recommended Rice merely be disciplined.

But he insisted he had not seen the video and instead had relied on their accounts of it. "I know had I seen the tape that my assessment would have differed from theirs, and I would have acted on my assessment," Barchi said.

Asked why he hadn't watched the video, he said: "I can't answer exactly why I didn't. You can only say in retrospect I sure wish I had."

Pernetti resigned on Friday, complaining that he had been made a scapegoat. The university's general counsel, John B. Wolf, also resigned, while a waelthy donor to the university, David Bugen, said he was shelving plans for further donations due to his concern over Pernetti's treatment.

"I am not proud," Bugen said. "It is unfortunate how a person can be made a scapegoat."