Rutgers University President Robert Barchi has presided over the Mike Rice player-abuse scandal, the hiring of super-sketchy AD Julie Hemann and most recently, Hermann’s public remarks rooting for the demise of the Newark Star-Ledger. For an encore, Barchi, miffed over negative reaction to plans for Condoleeza Rice to deliver Rutgers’ commencement address, pulled the plug on plans for former DT Eric LeGrand — wheelchair bound since a 2010 injury — to speak on the same day. While Barchi has since flip-flopped and apologized to LeGrand, this latest episode proves to the New York Daily News’ Filip Bondy, “the man has been a disaster area when it comes to dealing with his runaway athletics department.”
It is natural to suspect the tone-deaf Barchi of outright lying or embellishment here, because he is the same man who initially covered up Mike Rice’s abuse of Rutgers basketball players. He owns no reservoir of goodwill, and may be throwing Hermann under the bus the same way he shed former athletic director and scapegoat Tim Pernetti.
Barchi would show those 50 sit-in protestors and those faculty members who didn’t want to give Condoleezza Rice an honorary degree. The school president would invite another Republican, former Gov. Thomas Kean, to be the keynote speaker.
Kean is a moderate who has taken Chris Christie to task on occasion and can be viewed as a model of bipartisanship. But few students on campus know or care much about Kean’s administration in New Jersey from 1982 to 1990. His terms were not particularly controversial. He may remain an influential figure in Trenton, but not on the New Brunswick campus. There, Kean is about as relevant and exciting to most seniors as the video game Pong.