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N.J. Gov. Chris Christie touts ‘absolute confidence’ in embattled Rutgers head

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he stands by the president of Rutgers University, despite swirls of controversy in recent days over the incoming athletic director's alleged record of verbal abuse.

Newly hired Julie Hermann faces allegations that she verbally abused players – including calling them whores – while coaching volleyball at Tennessee in the 1990s, various media reported.

That hiring has prompted some to question the leadership abilities of Rutgers President Robert Barchi, 66, who already fired the men's basketball coach, Mike Rice, for a similar issue. Mr. Rice was sent packing on April 3, after a video of him throwing basketballs and kicking players — while shouting gay slurs at them — made the media rounds. The lacrosse coach was also recently suspended over verbal abuse claims made by players.

And the whole debacle comes as Rutgers prepares to enter the Big Ten Conference in a year.

But the governor is trying to calm the tone. He said in Fox News that he has the "utmost confidence" in Mr. Barchi, at least for the time being.

"I understand that there are some people that feel differently about it. It doesn't matter," Mr. Christie said, Fox News reported. "What matters is — what did the administration at Rutgers believe? These are their decisions. Now they have to deal with the questions that are being raised."

The governor also cautioned against too much criticism of Ms. Hermann and expressed a reluctance to join in her "character assassination," Fox News said.

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