04/05/2013 03:55 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Robert Barchi, Rutgers President, Says He Will Not Resign

Rutgers University President Robert Barchi will not resign from his post, he said at a Friday afternoon press conference to discuss how the administration had handled the Wednesday firing of men's head basketball coach Mike Rice.

Calls for Barchi's brief tenure to end came almost as soon as ESPN reporting drove the release of video that shows Rice shoving student athletes, hurling basketballs at them and using derogatory slurs. Since the video was made public Tuesday, a group of faculty sent a letter demanding Barchi's resignation, athletic director Tim Pernetti has stepped down, assistant basketball coach Jimmy Martelli has resigned, and Barchi confirmed at the press conference that interim general counsel John Wolf is also out.

"We will learn from this situation going forward," Barchi said. When asked if he would resign, Barchi responded, "I serve at the pleasure of the board [of governors]. I do not have a contract of any term. My term is at their will."

Ralph Izzo, chairman of the board of governors, also chimed in that he would not ask for Barchi's resignation. "I think he's the right person to run this university for many years to come," Izzo said.

The university and its governing boards had declined to comment on calls for Barchi's resignation throughout Wednesday and Thursday. A Thursday press conference to explain further details about the Rice firing was canceled without explanation, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported.

The administration also hasn't communicated directly with any of the faculty members who sent the letter demanding Barchi's resignation, according to Rutgers history professor Beryl Satter, who signed the letter. The letter contends that Barchi only fired Rice "after media attention forced him to do so."

"They have been caught red-handed in a really terrible situation, and they have to decide who's going to take the fall," Satter told The Huffington Post.

English and women's studies professor Belinda Edmondson, one of the organizers of the letter, said she wasn't surprised by the silence from the administration, which she described as being "characterized by endemic secrecy and a consistent lack of transparency" during Barchi's tenure.

"I don't see how he can function as an effective leader for an institution such as Rutgers, which is a leader in diversity both in terms of research and advocacy, as well as in its student population," Edmondson told HuffPost.

The scandal has evoked bipartisan outrage from state legislators too.

"The leadership at Rutgers must explain to the people of New Jersey why Mr. Rice's firing didn’t happen sooner and how such an abusive environment was ever permitted to exist at our state university," state Assemblywoman Celeste Riley (D-Cumberland) told the Star-Ledger. "If the Rutgers administration refuses to explain itself, I will seek to get the answers the people of our state deserve as to why he wasn't fired sooner."

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) told the Asbury Park Press that the New Jersey Legislature will hold hearings to find out "who knew what, and when."

"The abuse and bullying inflicted on the student-athletes at New Jersey’s state university is an embarrassment," Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini (R-Monmouth), the Republican deputy conference leader, told the Park Press.

Barchi joked during Friday's press conference that while he thinks about resigning every day when he wakes up, he has no plans to do so.

But he acknowledged he needs the support of Rutgers' faculty, students and alumni to be an effective president.

"If I don't have the confidence of this university to move it forward," he said, "I can't move it forward."

Read the letter sent by 13 faculty members:

Rutgers Faculty Letter



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