TRENTON, N.J. — Rutgers officials are scrutinizing practice videos of all sports to see if any coach engaged in behavior like the type that cost men’s basketball coach Mike Rice his job, the university president announced Monday.
The inquiry into Rice and how university officials responded is also going deeper as the school announced that it plans to hire a consultant to conduct an independent review.
University President Robert Barchi, speaking Monday during a town hall meeting on the school’s Newark campus, said he wants any instances of bullying or homophobic language to be reported immediately.
He also reiterated that he wished he had viewed the video where Rice — whom Gov. Chris Christie on Monday called an “animal” — shoved players and called them gay slurs when it first surfaced in November, saying he would have fired Rice then.
Rice was fired last week only after the video became public. Athletic Director Tim Pernetti, an assistant basketball coach and the university’s top lawyer also resigned last week, while some Rutgers faculty members and others called for Barchi to step down, too.
On Monday, Christie defended Barchi’s performance while blasting Rice’s behavior. He also criticized the reaction of those who knew about it and did not fire the coach months ago, when the video was given to university officials and viewed by — at least — Pernetti, university interim counsel John Wolf and Chairman Mark Hershhorn of the university Board of Governors’ athletics committee.
“They were wrong not to come to the conclusion that Coach Rice needed to be fired immediately,” Christie said at a news conference.
In a statement released by his lawyer late Monday, Hershhorn said he did call for Rice’s firing on the day in early December that he watched the video. He said he told Pernetti that if the video was authenticated, Rice needed to be immediately terminated. Contrary to his recommendation, Hershhorn said, the university chose to discipline Rice instead of let him go.