Rutgers begins coaching search interviews amid softball investigation
Rutgers Athletics Director Pat Hobbs began interviewing candidates to fill the head football coach position last week. The filling of the top coaching position comes as a cloud hovers over the Department of Athletics following NJ Advance Media’s report of former and current players alleging mental and physical abuse committed by head softball coach Kristen Butler and her volunteer assistant coach and husband Marcus Smith.
Out of what University President Robert L. Barchi called an “abundance of caution,” the University announced that it would open an outside investigation into the allegations, The Daily Targum reported.
The allegations, with the investigation just beginning, have not caused any leadership changes and ultimately may not ever cause changes, depending on what the investigation finds. But with the investigation looming over the Department of Athletics, Hobbs has begun looking for someone to fill former head coach Chris Ash’s position as leader of the most major sport in a program struggling to remain independently financially viable.
Last week, Rutgers interviewed former University of Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, according to an article by NJ Advance Media. During his tenure as coach of the SEC conference team, Jones had a 34-27 record and was fired with two games left in the 2017 season.
Since then, Jones has worked as an analyst for Alabama, according to the article.
Meanwhile, two New Jersey lawmakers, Sen. Joseph Cryan (D-20) and Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27), called for Hobbs to resign over the weekend, according to articles on NJ Advance Media.
“It’s time for Pat Hobbs to go,” Cryan said, according to the article. “Part of it is the lack of Rutgers’ ability to respond quickly to issues, as well as Rutgers’ ability to show a long-term plan that makes sense. It’s both the short-term response and the long-term ineffectiveness that leads people to this conclusion.”
McKeon, who was the first lawmaker to call for Hobbs to resign, cited Hobbs’s initial response to NJ Advance Media reporters during the softball story as the main reason he should resign, according to the article.
Hobbs, when asked about the allegations against Butler, responded by saying, “You guys are f****** scum. Why should I help you people?” He would apologize an hour later by saying, “This narrative around RU being a place where abuse is tolerated is bull****. But it gets clicks,” the Targum reported last week.
“Hobbs has been placed in a leadership role,” McKeon said, according to the article. “The profanity aside, the reason behind the tirade was to obfuscate and to discredit very serious allegations by student-athletes and their families. This conduct is inappropriate on many levels, particularly by an educator vested with a significant responsibility of trust.”
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