Christie Takes Barchi's Back, Calls Rice An 'Animal' - KMSP-TV

Christie Takes Barchi's Back, Calls Rice An 'Animal'

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TRENTON, N.J. -

Rutgers University president Robert Barchi is under fire for his admitted missteps in the handling of the basketball scandal that has engulfed his school.

But he has a powerful ally in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

"Dr. Barchi made a mistake when he didn't ask to see the videotape," said the governor, in his first public comments since the scandal broke while he was away on vacation last week. "He admitted that mistake. In my mind, that is not a fireable (sic) offense."

Christie called the behavior seen on a basketball practice video -- physical and verbal abuse of players, including homophobic slurs by now-former head coach Mike Rice -- a stain on Rutgers University.

"Who could actually look at that tape and say you'd want to entrust your child to Mike Rice?" Christie asked rhetorically.

At another point, he said, ""What parent would let this animal back into their living room to try to recruit their son? After this video?"

The governor said if he had seen the video last fall, when it first surfaced, he would have acted immediately.

"Fire him and let him sue you, and let the courts decide," said Christie. "But get him away from the student-athletes."

Barchi admitted last Friday that he never asked to see the video when he was told about Rice's behavior and suspension back in November.

Barchi didn't see the tape till last Tuesday night.

He fired Rice the next day.

Said Christie of Barchi: "He relied upon the people who worked for him and who were most expert in this topic -- his lawyer and the athletic director -- to make a recommendation."

Rice and that athletic director, Tim Pernetti, are now gone.

So, too, is the school's general counsel.

Barchi hosted a town hall meeting at Rutgers-Newark Monday and told a sometimes-hostile crowd of students and faculty that he's asked the school's sports administrators to review all practice videos from all of Rutgers teams.

Barchi said he's told them "to report back to me immediately, about any evidence whatsoever with any of our sports teams about any kind of bullying, whether it's verbal, physical or otherwise -- any kind of homophobic language -- anything of the sort.

Barchi flatly denied the implication that Pernetti had suggested back in November that Rice be fired, and that he, Barchi, had nixed the idea.

Never happened, he said.

Meanwhile, Christie told reporters that any thought of pushing Barchi out the door would be a mistake and a huge loss for Rutgers.

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