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Rutgers Coach Caught in Controversy; New Attach in Colorado; Conrad Murray Speaks Out; Sources Say Fallon Inks "Tonight" Deal; Interview with Dustin McDaniel, Arkansas Attorney General

Aired April 3, 2013 - 09:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Happening now in the NEWSROOM, a college coach crossing the line.


COSTELLO: Rutgers' basketball coach Mike Rice kicking players, throwing balls at their heads.

UNIDENTIFEID MALE: I was like in total shock that this guy wasn't fired.



COSTELLO: Spill suit. Arkansas launching an investigation into the terrible oil spill that's flooded a neighborhood.

Also Conrad Murray, the prison interview.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You believe in your innocence?

CONRAD MURRAY, MICHAEL JACKSON'S PHYSICIAN: Absolutely. No doubt. Because I did nothing wrong.

COSTELLO: Michael Jackson's fallen doctor. The denials, and the strange singing on CNN last night.

MURRAY (SINGING): He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot. He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot

COSTELLO: Plus, controversy in the classroom. Should teacher raises be tied to student test scores?

And late-night deal.

ANNOUNCER: Here he is, Jimmy Fallon!

COSTELLO: New reports from Hollywood, Jimmy Fallon will indeed replace Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show".

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



COSTELLO: Good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. We begin with a story sure to rattle anyone whose kids play sports. Watch this -- grabbing, shoving, throwing basketballs at players, even hurling ugly slurs.




COSTELLO: That's Mike Rice, head basketball coach at Rutgers University, at least for now. ESPN's release of the tape has ignited Internet fury and calls for Rice to be fired.

CNN's Pamela Brown is in New York, following the latest developments. Has the university responded anew to this?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, we haven't heard anything official from the university, but yesterday the school's athletic director, Tim Pernetti, defended his decision not to fire Rice several months ago when the video first surfaced.


BROWN (voice-over): Hurtling basketballs at players' legs, even their heads. Grabbing, pushing, kicking, and punching them, and screaming homophobic slurs.


BROWN: This video obtained by ESPN's "Outside The Lines" shows Rutgers head basketball Coach Mike Rice going off the handle and abusing his players during practices from 2010 through 2012, according to the sports network.

The footage surfaced after Eric Murdock, who was Rice's director of player development until he was fired, showed it to Rutgers Athletic Department officials. In an interview with ESPN, Murdock says the abuse caused several players to leave.

ERIC MURDOCK, FMR. RUTGERS DIR. OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT: To see your coach physically putting his hands on players, physically kicking players, you know, firing balls at players from point-blank range, the -- the verbal abuse, the belittling, yes, I was in total shock that this guy wasn't fired. And immediately on the spot.

BROWN: On ESPN Tuesday, the school's athletic director was asked why he didn't fire Rice.

TIM PERNETTI, RUTGERS DIR. OF INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS: The moment that we became aware of the video in November, when it was presented to us by Eric and his lawyers, we immediately commenced an independent investigation into the matter. We talked to everybody in the program. We evaluated the situation, and we suspended Mike in a more significant way than coaches have been suspended in recent memory.

BROWN: Now, as this video goes viral, many calling on him to reconsider and fire Rice. Even Lebron James weighing in on Twitter saying, "If my son played for Rutgers or a coach like that, he would have some real explaining to do, and I'm still going to whoop on him afterwards. Come on."

Seeing basketball coaches lose their cool is nothing new. Remember legendary Coach Bobby Knight? He was known for his hot temper and throwing chairs. But it was this video showing him with his hands around a player's neck that led to his dismissal at Indiana.

BOBBY KNIGHT, FORMER BASKETBALL COACH: I mean, maybe I grabbed Neal Reed by the shoulder, maybe I took him by the back of the neck. I don't know. I don't remember everything that I've ever done in practice.

BROWN: Now the question looms, will Rice face the same fate as Knight?


BROWN (on-camera): So the questions remain this morning whether Rice will keep his job and whether Pernetti and others involved in Rice's suspension will face disciplinary action. We have been reaching out to the university, but so far have not heard back. Of course, we'll keep you posted on any developments. Carol.

COSTELLO: Yes, I'm sure you will keep reaching out to Rutgers. Pamela Brown, many thanks to you.

Earlier, on CNN "STARTING POINT", we heard from an ESPN reporter looking into the blossoming scandal at Rutgers. He was asked are these kinds of abuses all that uncommon?


JOHN BARR, ESPN REPORTER: What we've seen in recent months is more and more of these incidents coming to light. And I don't known that means there is a heightened sensitivity to it, but we had a report recently on ESPN where we talked about coaching millennials and it's the case now where a lot of these student athletes are pushing back and not tolerating this type of behavior.

How common is it? I think if you were to have cameras at every practice across the country, you might be surprised that some stuff goes on that people would be shocked about.


COSTELLO: He goes on to say salty language is a normal part of college athletics, but he was shocked to hear homophobic slurs in this day and age. Five days -- five days, that's how long it took Colorado officials to realize that Evan Ebel, the parolee accused of gunning down Colorado's prison chief, had disabled his ankle monitor. Ebel was required to wear the monitor while he was on parole for assault. On March 14, Ebel's ankle monitor started sending off a tamper alert. It took authorities five days to investigate and, by then, a pizza delivery man had been murdered and so had Colorado's prison chief.

And while police continue to investigate the murders of two prosecutors in Texas, in Colorado, a prosecutor had her own close call. Investigators say an unarmed intruder was killed after trying to push his way into the home of the prosecutor and her husband, who happens to be a sheriff's deputy.

Jim Spellman has more for you from Colorado.

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, authorities tell us it was just before midnight Monday night when a call came in to 911 from a deputy district attorney in Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado. She reported a stranger at their door acting erratically. Then we know there was some sort of altercation and either the deputy district attorney or her husband, who is a sheriff's deputy, shot this man.

His name is Joshua Stevens; he's in his early 30s. Had only moved to the community about a week earlier apparently looking for work and staying with some friends there. We don't know why he was at their door or what led to this altercation.

Now, prosecutors and law enforcement personnel across the state have been on heightened alert since the murder of Colorado's prison chief as well as the murder of the assistant district attorney and district attorney and his wife down in Texas. But at this point, investigators tell us they do not believe there is any connection between those cases and what happened up in Hot Sulphur Springs. Still a lot more work for investigators to do before they can figure out exactly what happened Monday night. Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Jim Spellman reporting this morning.

Other top stories for you this morning. It's seven minutes past the hour. The president making a new push for gun control. In just a few hours, President Obama will head to Denver where state lawmakers recently passed tough new gun laws. The president will speak at the Denver Police Academy; that's only a few miles from the theater, the theater where the massacre in Aurora happened last summer.

A surprising moment from former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford. He gave a victory speech with his fiancee by his side. Now, this woman is the same woman Sanford admitted to having an affair with in Argentina. After he first told the public in 2009, he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. What's unusual is that Maria Belen Chapur almost never appears in public with Sanford. He's now won South Carolina's Republican primary run-off for a U.S. House seat. Sanford will face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, who is of course the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert. An award-winning superintendent has left jail after posting bond this morning. Beverly Hall is accused of rewarding teacher who allegedly changed students' test scores of the Atlanta Public School District. Reports say she earned $225,000 in bonuses over three years for the unexplained test score game. The former Atlanta superintendent denies wrongdoing. Thirty-four other Atlanta educators are indicted; at least 26 have turned themselves in.

The man in prison for the involuntary manslaughter in the case of Michael Jackson is speaking out amidst a new lawsuit. He's trying to clear his name. Conrad Murray insists he is not guilty. But that's not all that's making news this morning.

Last night, Conrad Murray, Dr. Murray, actually sang a song, a Nat King Cole song for Anderson Cooper.


MURRAY (SINGING): He envied all those lucky boys, but goodness knows he didn't want a lot. I'm so sorry for that laddie who hasn't got a daddy. He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot .

That song tells my story.


COSTELLO: I know. I know. This interview comes as Michael Jackson's mother is accusing concert promoter AEG of negligent hiring when they, you know, hired Dr. Conrad Murray.

Joining us to talk more about that is Don Lemon, who also spoke exclusively to Dr. Murray. I know it's not politically correct, but he sounds crazy.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, yes. Listen, I wasn't surprised that he actually sang that song because in the interview with me on Friday, he talked about, you know, his childhood and not having certain things and really being the brunt of what happened to Michael Jackson and sort of relating Michael Jackson as a child, because Michael Jackson didn't have a childhood.

It was uncomfortable to watch -- as you were sitting there watching Anderson, I don't know how Anderson didn't flinch or laugh, because I think my first inclination would have been to do so.

COSTELLO: Well, true. But then you remember what this man is accused of doing to Michael Jackson, and it becomes quite serious. And then you wonder how could have anybody hired this doctor?

LEMON: Well, that's the crux of the case. Who hired Michael Jackson (sic)? Was it AEG or Michael Jackson? And that's going to be at the crux for both sides here.

And AEG is saying, listen, we are like a credit card, like Visa or Mastercard. We were simply fronting the money to Conrad Murray for Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson, Conrad Murray was Michael Jackson's physician and we were only paying him up front for Michael Jackson. And so the family is saying something opposite and they're suing for $40 billion at the top end. $40 billion. Of course, they probably won't get that.

The interesting thing, though, is when I talked to Dr. Murray, the way I got him to speak to me, and I said, listen, you seem like villain to most people because you sat in the courtroom -- I was there in 2011 when he was convicted -- and you didn't really say anything. You showed emotion one time. And do you feel like you've been made out to be the bad guy? That's when he wanted to talk to me. He wanted people to hear.

Take a listen.


LEMON: Do you think that you've been made out to be villain?

MURRAY: I don't want to pass judgment on others. I can see that I am a scapegoat. There is no doubt about it. All of the mishaps that he has encountered in life seems to trickle down on me, and I think that is the case of the scapegoat. Nobody has taken any responsibilities for anything that they have done to this man. But because I was at the wrong place at the wrong time, here I am.


COSTELLO: So who's responsible in his mind for Michael Jackson's death?

LEMON: Michael Jackson, himself, he says. And for people who were around Michael Jackson, meaning the family. The family did not take responsibility. And people he calls hangers on. He believes that by the time Michael Jackson died, there was no Propofol in his system. His attorney says that as well, and says she has proven that theory that there was nothing is there.

So either Michael Jackson self-administered, and also blaming other drug use that Dr. Arnold Cline, the dermatologist, that may have been in Michael Jackson's system.

So it's really everyone else but him. He was Michael Jackson's friend and was doing -- was trying to help him towards the end, but he just happened to be there, was the last person, when Michael Jackson died.

COSTELLO: Like, oops. That's really sad. Don Lemon, thanks so much.

Kevin Ware, he is back with his brothers. The Louisville guard on crutches rejoined teammates two days after surgery to repair his shattered leg. Joe Carter was there when Ware returned to campus with his mom.

Describe it. What was the mood like?

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: I can tell you what, Carol. I was very surprised, but yet very happy to see a big smile on Kevin Ware's face when he arrived to the practice facility yesterday. Obviously he's on crutches, two days removed from a huge surgery where they had to put a rod in his leg, but he was in a really good mood. His mom was in a good mood. She was carrying the championship trophy that the team won Sunday night after beating Duke.

They came to practice yesterday; they watched the team practice for about three hours; then they got in a van after practice. As they were passing us by in the van, Mom gave us two big thumbs up, Kevin and his girlfriend waved and smiled. So the mood was really good between him and his family.

The plan today is to see if Kevin's going to be able to get on a plane tonight with the team. They're set to leave Louisville about 7:00 p.m. Eastern to head down to Atlanta. Doctors want to give him one last check to make sure that there is no infection inside that wound. If he's medically cleared, he'll be able to join the team. And obviously, Carol, a big point of motivation for that team if he's sitting on the sidelines, sitting on the bench, when they play Wichita State on Saturday night, Carol.

COSTELLO: You're not kidding. Joe Carter, many thanks to you.

After a video of his duet with Jay Leno went viral, Jimmy Fallon back to his usual tricks.


JIMMY FALLON, LATE NIGHT TV HOST: The theme for last night's episode of "Dancing with the Stars" was actually Prom Night. Which makes sense, since all I did was sit alone and watch other people dance.



COSTELLO: God knows no shortage of dance partners now, though. New report that Jimmy Fallon has indeed closed a deal with NBC that would allow him to take over as host of "The Tonight Show."

"Showbiz Tonight" host A.J. Hammer is in New York.

So -- well, this doesn't really come as a big surprise.

A.J. HAMMER, HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": No, not a huge surprise, Carol. These new reports are that Jimmy has signed a contract extension with NBC that would guarantee he'll be taking over "The Tonight Show." But while outlets like "The New York Times" and "The Hollywood Reporter" are confirming the news, the timeline for Leno to be replace, that's still up in the air.

The theory has always been that there are NBC executives who want Fallon in place by the Winter Olympics next February. And that's an important time because NBC has been in such a ratings slump, the only really reliable audience magnet they have is sports. However, Leno is still under contract reportedly until next fall. So that timeline may not exactly work and that also may not leave enough time for Jimmy Fallon to figure out his transition to the new show and to get a new set built in New York, which is apparently where the show would now originate from.

And I think NBC would obviously love to have this all go as smoothly as possible. But I don't think anybody can guarantee, Carol, that this is a done deal until Fallon is actually sitting behind that desk and doing well in the ratings.

COSTELLO: OK. We'll keep our eye on it. A.J. Hammer, many thanks.

HAMMER: You got it.

COSTELLO: Twelve thousand barrels of oil rushing down streets and soaking into front lawns and backyards, the smell unbearable. Now, Arkansas is investigating this nasty oil spill.

The man leading the charge, next.


COSTELLO: Nineteen minute past the hour. Welcome back.

Arkansas now investigating ExxonMobil for a nasty oil leak in the town of Mayflower. Crews are still cleaning up 12,000 barrels of crude oil that poured into streets and soaked into lawns. The neighborhood has now overcome with the stench of crude oil. People were forced to evacuate, two dozen of them.

The spill started Friday. It was caused by a two to three inch gash in ExxonMobil's 60-year-old underground pipeline that transports Canadian oil to Texas.

With us now from Little Rock is Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.



COSTELLO: Good morning. What action is your office taking, and why?

MCDANIEL: Well, the attorney general's office is responsible for representing the people of the state. And so, most importantly to me, I want to know what happened. I want to know what we're doing to clean it up. And what we're going to do going forward to ensure that the natural resources of Arkansas that have been damaged -- we're compensated for that.

So, the first step, of course, is to place the company on notice that we want them to retain their records, documents, e-mails, things that are going to be important as we gather evidence going forward, and then today I'm going to go personally to the site and get a feel for what's happening on the ground.

COSTELLO: It doesn't sound like you trust ExxonMobil overly? MCDANIEL: To their credit, they have been cooperative so far. However, I think that it's my responsibility in the adversarial system that we have to be very aggressive and ensure the people of Arkansas are being represented thoroughly. So, it's not is much about trust. It's just about ensuring that the right things are being done step by step to make sure that this environmental incident is addressed properly.

This is not the type of thing that we deal with all the time in Arkansas. So, I've been in touch with my friends, the attorneys general of Louisiana and Mississippi who, unfortunately, have a lot more experience with much larger spills than this and I'm getting an awful lot of good advice about how to proceed.

COSTELLO: Yes, we all remember what BP did. So we're with you.

I'm just wondering, you have crude oil inside some homes. Crude oil seeping into the ground, what -- how could that harm your home? Could it harm a home irreparably? And could it sink into the ground that crude oil, and affect the aquifers underground?

MCDANIEL: Well, I don't want to step too far, but I would think that some homes would be damaged beyond repair. I think a lot of the ground soil is going to have to be removed permanently and replaced. Some homes are probably going to have to be destroyed. Much of this area may have to be completely redone.

And you're right to talk about the ground water. We have a fragile environment in Arkansas. We protect it. We call ourselves the natural state for a reason. And whether it's the Lake Conway which is a source of drinking water and recreation in Faulkner County or the extensive underground aquifers that are critical to Arkansas's economy and environment, we're going to find out exactly how far the spill goes.

COSTELLO: And the last question, the pipeline that runs underneath the state is 60 years old. ExxonMobil, what, earned a near world record profit of $45 billion last year. Wouldn't it be nice if they replaced that pipe?

MCDANIEL: I don't know how long they intended for that pipeline to be in use when it was put in the ground just after World War II, and I don't know exactly when it was last inspected or what the inspection records are. But I can assure you the people of Arkansas are going to ask those questions and we're going to find out.

COSTELLO: Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, thank you so much for being with us this morning.

MCDANIEL: Thank you. It's good to be with you.

COSTELLO: You're welcome.

Talkback question for you today: Should the Rutgers basketball coach be fired?, or tweet me @carolCNN.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talkback on one of the stories of the day. The question for you this morning: Should the Rutgers basketball coach be fired? Disturbing video on ESPN. Rutgers Coach Mike Rice, kicking, shoving, punching and berating his players with homophobic slurs.




COSTELLO: Rutgers suspended rice for three games, fined $50,000. If you're saying you've got to be kidding, you're not alone. The best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James tweeted, quote, "If my son played for Rutgers or a coach like that, he would have some real explaining to do and I'm still going to whoop on him afterward. C'mon!"

Ironies abound here. Rutgers is where Tyler Clementi studied, the gay student who committed suicide after being bullied. Rutgers practically fell over itself trying to right the bully's wrongs, but some say not in Rice's case. After watching the video in November, Rutgers officials let the sports bully off easy.

ESPN senior writer and CNN contributor L.Z. Granderson tweeted, quoted, "After the Rutgers athletic director fires Mike Rice, he should fire himself."

We did reach out to Rutgers and Rice, but we've not heard back. But the athletic director told WFAN radio --


TIM PERNETTI, RUTGERS DIRECTOR OF INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS: There is a lot of hindsight 20/20 that there will be there was no other option than to terminate Mike. I made that decision. I'm accountable for it. I have to live with that.


COSTELLO: Really? Come on. It's deja vu all over again. For years, Indiana coach Bobby Knight was notorious for his temper. It took this video of Knight with his hands around a player's neck to finally get him fired.

The ultimate irony? Knight has got a gig at ESPN, the same network who's analysts are now calling for Rice to be fired.

Talkback question for you this morning: Should the Rutgers coach be fired?,, or tweet me @carolCNN.

Coming up next, he is the conservative man of the moment. And now, Dr. Ben Carson is taking aim at the left, calling white liberals racist. But is he ignoring problems within his own party? Our political panel will weigh in.