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Clean slate gives Rutgers chance at redemption


NOVEMBER 30, 2015    LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2015, 12:37 AM

The first six words of Robert Barchi’s open letter to the Rutgers University community were probably the only ones we really needed to hear Sunday, revealing action that has not simply been a long time coming, but a long time needed.

“Today is a day of change,” Barchi wrote, the preamble to a seven-paragraph explanation of his decision to fire both Athletic Director Julie Hermann and football coach Kyle Flood. The Rutgers president also announced Pat Hobbs as the immediate replacement for Hermann, moving the former Seton Hall law school dean and short-term Pirates athletic director from an interim solution to a permanent one in the same day.

Barchi’s swift action comes in the wake of a losing season on the football field and an embarrassing one off it, and represents the first important step toward fixing an athletic department that has floundered as the stubborn president continued to back the ineffective reign of Hermann. By finally owning up to the mistake his search committee made two years ago, Barchi has a new opportunity to fill the leadership profile the athletic arm of the school so desperately needs.

“It was appropriate to start fresh, wipe the slate clean and move Rutgers forward,” Barchi said in an evening conference call with a small group of reporters.

What happens from this point forward will go a long way in determining whether Barchi can change the public perception of his disdain for athletics in general, a story he hopes will begin to change under Hobbs’ direction. That Hobbs comes to the job directly from the office of Governor Christie, where he served as ombudsman, sure makes this feel like a move with a Trenton stamp of approval.