One day after a report alleged Rutgers softball players suffered physical and emotional abuse from head coach Kristen Butler and her husband, who served as a volunteer assistant coach, school President Robert Barchi has called for an outside investigation regarding the claims in a written statement released on Thursday afternoon.
Barchi’s decision to order the investigation was first reported on Thursday by NJ Advance Media’s Matthew Stanmyre and Keith Sargeant, who published the original report of alleged abuse on Wednesday. The news of Barchi’s decision came hours after Stanmyre and Sargeant reported that multiple New Jersey lawmakers, including state senator Richard Codey, called for an independent investigation to look into the allegations.
President Barchi released the following statement on Thursday afternoon regarding his call to action for an outside investigation:
Rutgers is committed to a culture where nothing is more important than the health and safety of our students. That commitment is shared by the Athletics Department. 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.
We continuously review our programs to ensure the protection of our student-athletes, both in response to allegations and to ensure compliance with NCAA standards. 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.
I have spoken to Pat Hobbs regarding the language in the exchange with a sports reporter at the Star-Ledger. While I understand the frustration he was experiencing at not being given time to thoroughly respond to an expansive list questions, I have made it clear that there is never a time when such language is acceptable.
Mr. Hobbs has apologized to the reporter directly, and furthermore he has issued the following apology to our community:
The other day I reacted inappropriately when informed that we would not be given some additional time to respond to a reporter’s questions concerning our softball program. In this case, the questions centered on concerns that were raised from parents and a number of former players regarding some of the practice drills and team activities for the softball team following the recruitment of a top flight Division I softball coach.
The concerns were reviewed and where remedial action was necessary, changes were made. A report to the NCAA of 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. The volunteer coach, Marcus Smith, was separated from the team.
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. 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.
We will continue to follow this story as it develops.