TRENTON - Thirteen Rutgers faculty members demanded the resignation of university president Robert Barchi on Wednesday over his response to a video showing basketball coach Mike Rice hitting, shoving and berating his players with anti-gay slurs.
The professors' letter to the school's trustees and Board of Governors was posted on an independent faculty website and called for Barchi's job. It said his handling of the "homophobic and misogynist abuse" was inexcusable.
Rice was fired Wednesday, one day after the video surfaced publicly. Barchi approved a three-game suspension for Rice last year after the school first learned of the video.
Rice's firing drew praise from many political leaders, students and activists, but many also demanded the school explain why it took so long.
The call for a wider investigation touched on some long-running issues at the state's flagship university, including the treatment of gays and concerns about efforts to raise the profile of its sports programs. Just two months ago, the school announced a center named for the student who killed himself after a roommate used a webcam to watch him kissing a man, a case that rocked the campus and also drew national attention.
"I'm puzzled as to how anyone could think Mr. Rice was someone who should be representing our state university on a national level," said Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, a Democrat who later said lawmakers could hold legislative hearings on the topic. "I expect a full and detailed explanation from the Rutgers administration as to why Mr. Rice was not dismissed sooner and how exactly that decision was made."
Much of the ire, on campus and beyond, was directed at athletic director Tim Pernetti, who admitted Tuesday he had made a wrong decision to "attempt a rehabilitation of Coach Rice."
"I want to know why he didn't take any action sooner," said Jimmy Nguyen, a 22-year-old senior. "Why did he wait this long?"