Two Rutgers players defend fired coach Rice

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Two Rutgers men’s basketball players on Mike Rice’s team said the fired coach wasn’t the abusive tyrant he appears to be on a widely viewed video that ultimately cost him his job.

“You can’t let those individual moments define what he was,” junior forward Wally Judge said during a telephone interview Thursday.

“In my past two years, me being an older guy and being under other coaches, I have grown from the moment I stepped in these doors, not only as a player but also as a person because of how he has treated me.”

Sophomore forward Austin Johnson agreed.

“He did a lot for us off the court, academically, socially,” he said during a separate telephone conversation. “I have to say I enjoyed my time, even it was an emotional rollercoaster.”

Rice was fired Wednesday, the day after a video aired on ESPN showing him shoving, grabbing and throwing balls at players in practice and using gay slurs.

WKU coach Morton resigns

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Western Kentucky has announced that former Hilltoppers assistant Jake Morton has resigned as director of basketball operations.

The NCAA in February accused Morton of three recruiting violations allegedly committed as a University of Miami assistant between October 2008 and April 2009. The sports’ governing body also said he accepted at least $6,000 in supplemental income from convicted felon and Miami booster Nevin Shapiro between October 2007 and October 2008.

Head of officials resigns

SAN FRANCISCO — Ed Rush has resigned as the Pac-12 Conference’s coordinator of officials following comments that he targeted Arizona coach Sean Miller during internal meetings before the league tournament.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement released Thursday that “I want to express my appreciation for the great contribution Ed made to basketball officiating for the Conference during his tenure, particularly in the area of training and the cultivation of new officiating talent.”

Rush also thanked the conference for giving him the opportunity.

Scott told the AP a day earlier that Rush made an “inappropriate joke” before the Pac-12 tournament semifinals offering a group of officials $5,000 for a trip to Cancun if they called a technical foul on Miller, but that every official interviewed confirmed “nobody thought they were getting a reward.”

Thomas to enter draft

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis forward-guard Adonis Thomas plans to forego his final two seasons with the Tigers to sign with an agent and declare for the NBA draft.

ODU has new coach

NORFOLK, Va. — American University basketball coach Jeff Jones has been named head coach at Old Dominion.

Wood Selig, athletic director at Old Dominion, announced the hiring of the former Virginia head coach and player Thursday.