Let’s play a game. The category is out of line coaches. Ready? Go….
Who came to mind first? Bob Knight?
Who would’ve thought that the day would come when Knight’s stormy coaching past on the basketball court would seem mild?
Well, step aside coach. There’s a new man on the hot seat: Mike Rice, the men’s basketball coach at Rutgers University.
Rutgers fired Rice last week after hours and hours of incriminating video surfaced of Rice berating and assaulting his players in practice. Making matters worse is athletic director Tim Pernetti, who is also now out of a job, saw all of the footage months ago. His reaction? Suspend Rice for three games and fine him. Where was the public in the meantime? In the dark.
This isn’t Rutger’s first crisis and certainly not the only one in recent memory. Leadership should’ve known better. This story had all the trademarks of a simmering crisis about to boil over. If the university had crisis or public relations consultants at the ready, it’s hard to see what the strategy was here.
So, what should’ve happened? Glad you asked. Here’s a quick primer for crisis management:
- Get prepared. Hire a crisis consultant if needed. This type of news has a way of getting out and does not go away.
- Go public quickly – don’t hide. Time is not your friend. Conversations and judgment will take place with or without you. Might as well control the message to the extent you can.
- Be forthright. Accept responsibility. Apologize. Show compassion.
- Take action. Do what needs to be done. Correct the situation. Articulate how you will prevent the situation from happening again.
- Don’t underestimate public sentiment or the media – especially in the days of social media.
- Monitor the conversation. Act accordingly.