Lawmakers Call For Investigation Into Rutgers Abuse Claims
After the news of abuse allegations surrounding the Rutgers University softball coaching staff emerged on Wednesday, New Jersey lawmakers called for an independent investigation into the claims, NJ.com reported on Thursday.
The claims, which involved both the physical and emotional abuse of several former Rutgers softball student-athletes by head coach Kristen Butler and her volunteer-coach husband Marcus Smith, were originally published in an investigative report by NJ.com. Seven different former Rutgers softball players made allegations in the report.
Both Butler and Smith, as well as senior officials within the Rutgers athletic department, have denied any wrongdoing on behalf of the university's softball coaching staff.
On Thursday, however, multiple New Jersey lawmakers and national college sports advocates urged Rutgers officials to open an independent investigation into the matter.
"The coaches come across as sick individuals," said New Jersey Senator Richard Codey, who sent a formal letter to Rutgers urging an investigation into the behaviors of both its softball coaching staff and the officials within its athletic department for their handling of the situation.
"But they're denying it. They have that right," added Codey about Butler and Smith. "You have to have an independent agency come in and evaluate what did or did not go on. The President himself has to step in and say, 'Let's get to the truth of this as soon as we possibly can.' Otherwise, it's a heck of a bad stain on the university."
Additionally, Ramogi Huma, the founder of the National College Players Association, also called for an independent investigation to take place and urged both Butler and Smith to be placed on leave until the investigation is finished.
"The only viable course would be to bring in an independent law firm and to specifically find out whether or not best practices were followed," Huma stated, according to NJ.com's report.
Within one year of Butler's hiring in June of 2018, 10 players left the Rutgers softball program. Just three starting position players from last season remain on this year's roster.