New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s focus remains on the state’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy but Rutgers continues to remain a hot topic and was addressed Tuesday night in his monthly call-in show.
Three days removed from the Star-Ledger’s initial reports regarding athletic director Julie Hermann’s past, Christie offered more in-depth comments on the state of the university and his thoughts. Christie stood firm behind Barchi and offered strong support for the current administration.
“My job is not to run Rutgers,” Christie said on 101.5. “That’s the job of the Board of Governors and president Barchi and the general council John Farmer, all of whom I have respect for. These are their decisions. They decided to hire Eddie Jordan. They decided to hire Julie Hermann and now they have to deal with the questions that are being raised. As governor, I’m not going to micromanage every hire at Rutgers University.”
Christie offered stark support for Barchi and board chairman Ralph Izzo. Saying this weekend that he had questions to ask, he received the answers he needed.
“I have absolute confidence in Bob Barchi,” Christie said. “I think he’s the man for the job and he has my complete confidence and support. … He came out very forcefully yesterday in support of Julie Hermann. I understand that there’s some people who feel differently about it, but it doesn’t matter.”
Christie does not have any relationship with Hermann, he said, but called the national coverage of her past a “character assassination.”
“Let’s not engage in the character assassination that’s going on here,” Christie said. “The letter that the Star-Ledger has, from what I’ve been told, is not even signed by the players. … The Tennessee former athletic director came out today and said they never received the letter. Julie Hermann has said she never received the letter. What are we supposed to believe here?”
Christie played no role in the search for athletic director, but said his support of those in charge should be enough.
“I’m the governor of New Jersey,” he said. “I’m not the recruiter for Rutgers University. My opinion on all this is let Rutgers handle this. Past mistakes by Rutgers has led to this intense media attention and I understand that and I don’t argue with it. But I also am not going to become the super president or super chairman at Rutgers – not my job.
Christie also shot down the recent reports of Hermann’s role in the Louisville sex discrimination lawsuit.
“She was not even named in the suit,” Christie said. “The athletic director was named in the suit and she was not even named in the lawsuit. … I want to make sure that we defend the woman where she needs to be defended. … The current state of the case is, it has been dismissed. The jury’s verdict has been overturned.”