A minor controversy erupted on Tuesday over reports that former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand had been invited to give this year’s commencement speech, but then allegedly had his offer rescinded.
Rutgers offered me the commencement speech this weekend and I was going to accept but they decided to go other ways for political reasons— Eric LeGrand (@EricLeGrand52) May 6, 2014
According to LeGrand, he was invited to speak at commencement last Saturday (the same day Condoleezza Rice dropped the speaking gig) by Gregor Jackson, chief of staff to the President of Rutgers. But on Monday, to his disappointment, LeGrand apparently received a call from the school’s athletic director, Julie Hermann, rescinding the offer. Former NJ Governor Tom Kean was announced as the commencement speaker.
LeGrand has become an important figure, both in central New Jersey and the greater college sports world, since a 2010 football game when he suffered a spinal injury and was paralyzed from the neck down. Last fall, his number, 52, was retired, making him the first player to receive the honor in the program’s 144 years. Despite his injury, he finally earned his college degree last January. Right now, LeGrand is unquestionably Rutgers’s most prominent hometown hero.
Today, the university announced that LeGrand will in fact speak at commencement, owing the supposed slight to a miscommunication. According to LeGrand, President Barchi “made a decision but didn’t let everybody know that they were meeting Monday and then I guess the staff took it in their hands to go out and continue to look for a speaker. And then I didn’t hear from anybody this morning. That’s why I felt disrespected.”