Rice to Take Reigns of Scarlet Knights

Two weeks after Fred Hill resigned under pressure, Rutgers selected his replacement to run the program. Mike Rice, the head coach at Robert Morris, is the selection of athletic director Tim Pernetti, and the only thing standing in front of a formal announcement the finalizing of a contract. In three seasons at Robert Morris, Rice went to a pair of NCAA Tournaments.

Mike Rice, the 41-yeard-old Robert Morris coach with endorsements from some of New Jersey's most influential basketball coaches, is athletic director Tim Pernetti's choice to turn around Rutgers' moribund program, sources told ScarletReport.com.

However, sources added the contract was still being finalized, so an announcement was not yet made. The contract is not expected to be a stumbling block.

Rice will be introduced at a news conference this week as the first major hire under Pernetti.

And in trying to make a big splash on his staff, sources told ScarletReport.com Rice is trying persuade former Seton Hall Prep and Pittsburgh star Brandin Knight to join him in Piscataway.

The 28-yard-old Knight has been an assistant at Pittsburgh since 2008.

The decision to hire Rice comes two weeks after Fred Hill resigned under pressure, and a month after Hill's downfall began with his behavior at a Rutgers baseball game.

The fiery Rice was Pernetti's pick out of four finalists, which included Fran Fraschilla, Fran Dunphy and Al Skinner. However, it is uncertain what Dunphy's interest was in the process.

Rice's three-year record at Robert Morris, a private school with an enrollment of 4,000, and located in suburban Pittsburgh, was 73-30. He went to a pair of NCAA Tournaments, and his Colonials nearly upset Villanova in the first in March.

One of the things that attracted Rutgers to Rice was his reputation for being able to recruit the New York/New Jersey area. Last season the Colonials' leading scorer was Karon Abraham, a 5-foot-9 freshman guard from Paterson, N.J. who attended Harp Academy and played at Eastside of Paterson.

Throughout the process, Rice was involved, with influential coaches such as St. Anthony of Jersey City's Bob Hurley Sr. giving him an endorsement.

Rice's only head coaching stint was at Robert Morris, but he has Big East experience. He served on Jamie Dixon's staff at Pittsburgh.

Rice also was an assistant under Phil Martelli at St. Joseph's and also was an assistant at Marquette prior to its move to the Big East.

Rice also served as the director of Hoop Group Eastern Invitational Basketball Camp, where he was responsible for recruiting players to participate in the event.

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