N.J. Gov. Christie backs Rutgers president following dismissal of basketball coach

    The basketball scandal at Rutgers University has caused significant damage to school’s reputation, but Gov. Chris Christie said he has confidence in the state university’s president.

    Christie says if he seen the videotape of basketball coach Mile Rice berating his players, pushing and shoving them in November, he would have urged that Rice be fired then for abusing players.

    Rutgers President Robert Barchi should have viewed the tape sooner than last week, Christie said Monday, but added that’s not Barchi’s main responsibility.

    “He relied upon the people who worked for him and who were most expert in this topic — his lawyer and the athletic director. And when he became convinced that their judgment was wrong, he took appropriate action,” Christie said.

    The lawyer and athletic director Tim Pernetti have resigned.

    The governor says he does not believe that Barchi’s conduct should necessitate his departure, and it would be a setback for the merger with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, as well as Rutgers’ strategic plan if he left.

    Christie says he won’t conduct his own investigation into what happened at Rutgers. He says the people responsible have been dealt with, and it’s time to move on.

    A public outcry arose last week after tapes of Rice taunting and humiliating the basketball players were shown in ESPN.

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