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Monday, May 3, 2010

Source: Mike Rice to Rutgers

At long last, Rutgers has a men's basketball coach.

Two weeks after the school reached a financial settlement with Fred Hill, the school reached a deal Monday night with Robert Morris coach Mike Rice, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to The Trentonian.

The news was first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Trentonian's source said Rutgers will make an announcement later this week. Terms of the deal weren't immediately clear, but the source said it's a long-term deal in the six-year range.

Rice, 41, nearly led the Colonials to a stunning upset of Villanova in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Robert Morris, coming off back-to-back Northeast Conference titles and NCAA tournament berths, signed Rice to an extension through the 2017-18 season after he interviewed for the vacancy at Seton Hall.

That, however, was when it appeared Hill would be back for his fifth season at Rutgers. Athletic director Tim Pernetti announced on March 17 that Hill would return despite having gone 13-57 in the Big East -- the worst record in conference history over a four-year period.

But an outburst at a Rutgers-Pitt baseball game during which Hill reportedly went into a tirade directed at the Pitt coaching staff, Pernetti announced on April 8 that Hill had resigned.

That opened the door for Rice, who, along with ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla and former Boston College coach Al Skinner, interviewed for the Scarlet Knights' job last week.

The jump from the NEC to the Big East is one infrequently made, but Rice, a former Pitt assistant, has ties to the league and to the New York and Philadelphia areas. He played at Fordham from 1987-91 and served as an assistant coach at his alma matter from 1991-94. His resume also includes a stint as a Saint Joseph's assistant from 2004-06.

Rice will inherit a depleted roster that won't include leading scorer Mike Rosario, who announced last month he was transferring to Florida.


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