Jim Calhoun witnessed basketball practices all over the country in nearly half a century of coaching including Bob Knights sessions and said he never saw the likes of the video that emerged this week of Rutgers Mike Rice.
Calhoun and other Hall of Fame coaches agreed the footage showed clearly inappropriate behavior. Rice was fired Wednesday, a day after ESPN aired clips of the coach shoving, kicking and throwing balls at players and spewing gay slurs.
I yelled at a kid wrongly, yeah all of us use different motivational tactics, said Calhoun, who won three national championships at Connecticut before retiring in September. Maybe (holding) practice at midnight ... But you cant ever put your hands on a player.
That refrain was repeated over and over by current and former coaches.
Its just not right. Throwing the ball, thats unbelievable, said former St. Johns coach Lou Carnesecca, another Hall of Famer.
The 70-year-old Calhoun and his contemporaries emphasized that the reaction to the Rice video wasnt some new-fangled political correctness: Physical contact has always been unacceptable.
Dont tell me thats the old way. Thats the wrong way, said John Thompson Jr., the Hall of Famer who led Georgetown to the 1984 national title.
Thompson, the father of current Hoyas coach John Thompson III, called the images child abuse.
Like Calhoun, other coaches acknowledged theyve yelled plenty at players, and sometimes regretted it afterward. But, Carnesecca said, you can never make it personal.
We are talking about a level of crossing the line and making a human being feel so small, Calhoun said.
His former colleague at UConn, womens coach Geno Auriemma, is famous for histrionics on the sideline, not unlike many other coaching greats. Auriemma, winner of seven national titles, has the Huskies in their sixth consecutive Final Four. Thinking about Rices rants was difficult for him because Rutgers assistant Jimmy Martelli is the son of his friend, Saint Josephs mens coach Phil Martelli.
Believe me, Ive acted like an idiot at practice more times than I can ever, ever recount, Auriemma said. But some of the stuff that I saw ... there is no line that could be drawn that would make that behavior acceptable.
The most famous case of a coach accused of abusing a player is Knight. Indiana put him on a zero-tolerance policy in 2000 after a university investigation into a former players allegations that Knight had choked him during a practice.
When a student alleged that Knight grabbed him later that year, Knight was fired.
Knight, who now works for ESPN, couldnt be reached Wednesday. A network spokesman said he was traveling.
Cal coach Mike Montgomery was publicly reprimanded by his conference and athletic director for pushing Pac-12 Player of the Year Allen Crabbe with both hands during a timeout in a February game. Montgomery, who reiterated Wednesday that he didnt intend to push Crabbe but was trying to fire him up, has said he had a couple of sleepless nights, and there was no excuse for the behavior, which he called out of character.
His reaction to seeing part of the Rice video: Whoa.
Coaching by intimidation is not the best tactic, Montgomery said Wednesday.
I was shocked. Im surprised its taken this long to come to light. I found there was a time I was cussing more than I liked. Those are just words.
That part of it, obviously, in todays world, theres no place for it. You really have to be careful. You have to know big brothers watching and you have to know youre on the (right) path.
Louisvilles Rick Pitino, who has the Cardinals in the Final Four in his 28th season as a college head coach, echoed Calhoun in saying he had never seen anything like the Rice video.
It was very difficult to watch that; very disappointed, he said. I hope Mike gets some issues taken care of.
The Minnesota Timberwolves Rick Adelman played in the NBA before starting his coaching career.
Speaking recently about his coaching style, he said his experience as a player informed his decision not to yell much.
I didnt like to be coached like that, he said. I didnt like the intimidation factor that coaches had.
He understands that some coaches find yelling effective, and he gives his assistants a lot of leeway so players will hear different voices.
Players may not appreciate hollering at first, said Hall of Fame former Princeton coach Pete Carril. But if the criticism is constructive, it works.
Some players might not like you right away with how demanding you can be of them and you dont praise them for every little thing they do right, Carril said.
But as the kid develops, he realizes what you are doing for him.
AP Basketball Writer Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis and AP Sports Writers Gary Graves in Louisville, Ky., Brett Martel in New Orleans and Janie McCauley in Berkeley, Calif., contributed to this report.