Rutgers to open outside investigation after softball scandal emerges, Barchi says
University President Robert L. Barchi responded to the allegations that Rutgers softball head coach Kristen Butler and volunteer assistant coach Marcus Smith physically and emotionally abused players by announcing an independent investigation, according to an official statement.
“While I am confident that Athletics has followed appropriate procedures here, out of an abundance of caution I have nevertheless called for an outside investigation into the reported allegations,” Barchi said in the statement.
Seven players and five parents told NJ Advance Media that they repeatedly complained about the conduct of the coaches to Rutgers Athletics Director Pat Hobbs and Deputy Director of Athletics Sarah Baumgartner. They claimed the department failed to address their concerns adequately.
The statement included an additional response from Hobbs, who said the Department of Athletics responded to the allegations accordingly and that Smith has been separated from the team.
“The concerns were reviewed and where remedial action was necessary, changes were made,” Hobbs said in the statement. “A single Level III violation for allowing individual student-athletes to practice a total of 2 hours more than allowable over the course of a two-month period was reported to the NCAA.”
Barchi also condemned Hobbs’s use of profanity when speaking to reporters, according to the statement. Hobbs apologized to the reporter and the Rutgers community.
“As a leader at Rutgers University and someone who should serve as a role model to our young men and women it was wrong for me to use the language that I did,” Hobbs said in the statement.
After Barchi’s announcement, Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) said he was “deeply troubled” by the allegations as well.
“It would be an understatement to say that the allegations against Rutgers softball coaches are deeply troubling," said Alyana Alfaro, a spokeswoman for Murphy, in a statement to NJ Advance Media.
Barchi’s statement comes after multiple New Jersey lawmakers called on the University to independently investigate the situation, according to NJ Advance Media.
“Charges of coaches abusing their power over athletes, especially when it puts players in harm’s way, must be taken seriously,” said Sen. Richard Codey (D-N.J.), according to the article.
Barchi said the Department of Athletics is committed to protecting players and complying with NCAA standards, according to the statement.
“Rutgers is committed to a culture where nothing is more important than the health and safety of our students,” Barchi said in the statement. “That commitment is shared by the Athletics Department.”
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