MAHONE: Recent events have been good and bad for sports

Derrick Mahone

Derrick Mahone

The NCAA Final Four has arrived in Atlanta. The Atlanta Braves are back playing games that count. Major League Baseball’s 2013 is only a few days old and Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish almost became the 22nd modern era hurler to throw a perfect game. In a few weeks, the NFL will conduct its annual draft, but interesting offseason news is a buzz. As usual with this time of year, college basketball coaches are changing addresses.

And there is little time to catch your breath as the Masters will soon make its return to Augusta.

This is has been a busy week in the sports world. In case you missed anything, here’s a recap (with some opinion sprinkled in) on the happenings around the always exciting world of sports:

• Rutgers fires basketball coach Mike Rice: This came about four months too late. Only after ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” episode aired footage of Rice’s outrages and horrific practice tactics did Rutgers athletics director Tim Pernetti give him his walking orders. Pernetti was made aware of the tapes of Rice’s practice tirades that included throwing balls at players, pushing and shoving them in addition to degrading them with homophobic slurs. All Pernetti gave Rice, with the backing of university president Robert Barchi, is a three-game suspension and $50,000 fine. There was nothing different about the tape that Pernetti reviewed in November. The biggest difference for Pernetti is that thousands of other people have seen the despicable behavior of his former coach and public outcry changed his mind.

Seriously, Rutgers, is this the type of person you want in a leadership position? It is time for Pernetti go. Many praised him getting the New Jersey school into the Big Ten Conference, but is that worth the integrity of the entire university to overlook the behavior of one of your coaches as they are charged with leading students? We have seen the bad size of an institution of higher leading looking the other way in the name of winning on the athletic court or football field. It is time for Rutgers to do the right thing and tell Pernetti to seek employment elsewhere.

• Brian Banks signed by Atlanta Falcons: In the last few months, the former high school football star has seen his life change in an upward direction. Banks always had the dreams of playing in the NFL and he seemed well on that way when he chose powerhouse USC to continue his promising football future.

But the Long Beach native never made it on campus. In 2002, he took a plea deal that sent him to prison for five years for raping a classmate. It was later discovered that the female had lied and the conviction was overturned.

Now, the 6-foot-2, 250-pound linebacker will get his shot at professional football. Banks is a spokesman for the California Innocence Project which aided in getting his conviction overturned. While at age 27, Banks has gotten a late start on embarking on a pro career. Here’s hoping he makes the Falcons roster and has a productive career. In the meantime, Banks is working on a documentary about his story.

• Clayton State men’s basketball coach search: A new era in Laker athletics began when Carl McAloose took over as athletic director at the Morrow school in June 2012. He is no stranger to college athletics as both a consultant and successful athletic director. McAloose is the architect that put athletic program together at one of this season’s NCAA Tournament Cinderella teams. During his nine-year tenure at Florida Gulf Coast University, he built the program from scratch into a 14-sport athletic program. If you remember, FGCU reached the Sweet 16 in its first NCAA tournament berth after winning the Atlantic Sun Conference. Clayton State fans and administrators should feel real confident that McAloose will make a good hire. This man seems to know athletics and is well connected. The men’s coach at Clayton State will need to connect to the community to sell the team. Former coach Gordon Gibbons left the program on good footing, so the next coach will be set up well for success. With its women’s program fresh off a run through the Div. II tournament, these are exciting times for Clayton State athletics.

• Jarvis Crittenton facing murder charges: This one hits very close to home since I’ve known Crittenton since he was a 14-year-old freshman at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. At SACA, he played on two Class A title teams and was chosen Mr. Georgia Basketball by yours truly. Crittenton seemed destined for stardom, but he could never let his past go. Raised in a single parent home by his mother and grandmother in a high-crime area of the city, the former Georgia Tech player and one-time NBA player could never detach himself from his past. He was black-balled from the NBA because of a gun incident. Early this week, the Fulton County District Attorney office indicted him on murder charges and contends that he has ties to a Los Angeles street gang. So sad that a player with so much promise never fulfilled it on the highest level. Crittenton had a chance to rebuild his image after getting booted out the NBA, but he returned to those roots that many thought he was trying to escape.

• Kevin Ware’s injury: That might be one of the nastiest injuries that I’ve ever seen in sports. It has been viewed and reviewed by thousands, even those that don’t normally watch sports. But to his credit, the young man from Rockdale County has stayed upbeat about his future. Had a chance to see the talented guard play his final high school game at the Gwinnett Arena as Rockdale lost to powerhouse Miller Grove in the Class AAAA championship game. He played with a wonderful passion during that game. Prior to the start of the NCAA tournament, I tabbed Louisville as my winner. After seeing the way the Cardinals have rallied around Ware, and seeing him display such grace in light of his injury, I’m proud to root for this group. Not sure if Ware will ever play at that level again, but I’m sure that he will give it great try.

Derrick Mahone is the sports editor of the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at dmahone@news-daily.com.