— NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — When Rutgers University President Robert Barchi visits the school's Newark campus Monday, he will encounter some students and faculty who say they lost confidence in him even before the school's bourgeoning basketball scandal.
Barchi is scheduled to hold a town hall meeting that had been planned for last week but was postponed after a video surfaced showing basketball Coach Mike Rice pushing players, throwing basketballs at them and berating them with invectives, including gay slurs.
Rice was fired Wednesday and Athletic Director Tim Pernetti resigned Friday.
Some faculty members have demanded Barchi's resignation, citing his approval last year of a suspension for Rice rather than his immediate firing. Barchi, however, received a nod of support from the school's board of governors following Rice's dismissal.
The scandal has prompted the FBI to investigate whether a former Rutgers basketball employee tried to extort the university before recording practices at which Rice was seen pushing and otherwise belittling players, a person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press.
Monday's meeting was meant to address the sweeping plan to re-organize the state's higher education system, a priority of Gov. Chris Christie that the state legislature signed off on last year. The New Jersey Assembly will hold a budget hearing that will address the plan at the school Tuesday.
The goal, Barchi and state officials say, is to make Rutgers competitive with elite public institutions including the University of California, Berkeley, The University of Michigan and The University of Virginia. Strengthening the school would also bring in more tuition from out-of-state students who are charged more.
Barchi, a neurologist, was hired to help implement the transition and oversee a meshing of Rutgers and the state's University of Medicine and Dentistry. Some members of Rutgers' board of governors have expressed concern over the merger, because Rutgers would absorb $500 in the medical school's debt. The merger could cost up to $75 million, Barchi said in December.