Christie: Legislative ‘circus’ unnecessary; Oliver, Sweeney lash out

TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that while he can’t control what the state Legislature will do regarding a possible investigation, he hopes their involvement doesn’t create a “circus.”

“The Legislature is going to do what the Legislature does,” he said. “This kind of stuff, while it may get a lot of you (the media) to show up….does continue reputational damage to Rutgers…and if we can look into this in a way that makes sense and not make it a circus, that’s one thing. The circus will continue to hurt Rutgers’ reputation. They’ve taken decisive action…I think we need to move on.”

Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) of East Orange, and other Democratic leaders have called for investigations.

In a statement issued minutes Christie’s press conference about the Rutgers’ controversy, Oliver called the governor’s remarks disingenuous.

“The state Legislature has an obligation to the taxpayers, students, faculty, administrators, parents, alumni and other constituents to explore the process by which an unhealthy environment was allowed to exist within the Rutgers men’s basketball program,” Oliver said in a statement. “Left to its own devices in late 2012, the university hired outside legal counsel when these tapes first surfaced, and the course adopted by the university, we now know, was not the most prudent course to take.

“The Legislature is asked to approve legislation which operationalizes the functioning and funding of Rutgers, and there are no greater champions of our state university than the members of the New Jersey Legislature,” she said. “To imply that the Legislature seeks to cause ‘reputational damage’ or create a ‘circus’ atmosphere is extremely disingenuous.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney also lashed out after reports today that according to the chairman of the university Board of Governors, the head of the board committee on athletics saw the video in December.

“Any trustee or member of the Board of Governors who witnessed the tape at any point before it was publicly aired, and took no action, should be removed or resign immediately,” he said in a release.  

“The standard for them, or anyone in a position of authority at Rutgers, should be no different than for Mike Rice or Tim Pernetti.”

Rice and Pernetti are the ex-coach and ex-athletic director, respectively who departed in the wake of the video tape’s release.

“The only way Rutgers is going to be able to move on from this incident is full and complete disclosure: who knew what and when and what did they do, if anything, in reaction.  

“Until that happens, at a time when the school should be looking forward to graduating the class of 2013, it will instead be overwhelmed by scrutiny and scandal.”

Christie: Legislative ‘circus’ unnecessary; Oliver, Sweeney lash out