"I won't be perfect moving forward, but I've changed," the once fiery Rice told "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts in an interview for ABC's "20/20." "Having that taken away, your dream job...and having it done in such a visible way...and hurting the people closest to me...it changes a person."
The 44-year-old Rice was fired by the New Jersey state college April 3 as a result of a quickly unfolding scandal that began when ESPN's "Outside the Lines" aired footage of the coach being abusive to his players. The images were shocking, showing Rice pushing players in the chest, grabbing them by their jerseys, yanking them around the court, even hurling balls at their heads and groin. Rice could be heard screaming obscenities and vulgar language at players, including "f---ing f----t" and "fairy."
Rice claims he looks back at his behavior and is appalled.
"My first reaction, when I saw the tape was one of embarrassment, of shock, of sadness," Rice told Roberts.
Some of the harshest criticism against Rice came because of his use of anti-gay slurs, already a touchy subject at Rutgers. In 2010, Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi took his own life after he discovered his roommate had secretly used a webcam to watch his intimate encounter with another man in their dorm room.
Rice told Roberts that his use of homophobic language was "idiotic," because, he said, "I wasn't thinking that I was shouting at Tyler Clementi, or anybody else, who was a gay or a lesbian."
At the time, Rice said he believed he could change Rutgers' basketball program, but he admitted to Roberts that he wasn't ready.
"I thought it was necessary to get my team or that individual... to be tougher," said Rice.
Since the scandal, Rice said he has also apologized to his former players.
"You know, whether it was texting, whether it was calling, whether it was, handwritten letters, whether it's email, they don't deserve this and especially the first year's team," he said. "Even though we were out-manned every single night, they really, really fought hard for me…and they're almost embarrassed about that fact now. They're embarrassed about being a Rutgers basketball player."
He continued, "It's an incredible place...and it hurts, again, for me to be the reason why it's not looked upon as well as it should."
"That was a hard lesson learned that's for sure," said Rice. "There is going to be a different message. There is going to be a different Coach Rice."
Rice also spent five weeks of therapy in Houston with former NBA player John Lucas, who runs a treatment and recovery center for athletes.
"You're not going to completely change the perception...because that's going to be who Mike Rice is, a small percentage of it," Rice said.
"And again, it's not about making excuses. It's about learning from them. It's about sharing those mistakes with other coaches, and hopefully one day, if I do want to coach again, having an opportunity...That's what it's about."
The full interview with the former Rutgers coach will air during ABC News' "20/20" on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, at 10 p.m. ET.