Rutgers President Announces Investigation Into Softball Claims
Rutgers University president Robert Barchi announced that an independent investigation into allegations surrounding the institution's softball program will take place, according to a statement.
"Whenever concerns about student safety are presented, the university investigates those concerns in accordance with the best practices of the NCAA and our own protocols," Barchi said in the 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's decision to open an outside investigation comes in the wake of bombshell allegations surrounding abuse within the university's softball program. Last week, NJ.com reported that seven different former Rutgers softball student-athletes made claims concerning the alleged physical and emotional abuse they experienced because of their coaching staff.
The allegations, which involved head coach Kristen Butler and her volunteer-coach husband Marcus Smith, were denied by both the coaching staff and senior officials within the Rutgers athletic department. Rutgers athletic director Patrick Hobbs later took action, however, and stated that Smith had been separated from the softball squad and that the NCAA had been notified about a violation concerning countable practice hours.
"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 two hours more than allowable over the course of a two-month period was reported to the NCAA."
In the statement, Hobbs also mentioned that he offered an apology to a reporter from NJ.com for calling NJ Advance Media "f--king scum" when he was contacted for the story.
"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 added in the statement. "I apologized to the reporter, but I owe an apology to the Rutgers community as well. It won't happen again. The well-being of our student-athletes is always my first priority, and we will continue to be vigilant in addressing any concerns across all of our programs."