Christie fires off on Rutgers ex-coach

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by Chris Patterson

(CNN) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had some startling words for Mike Rice, the now-fired coach of Rutgers University, in a press conference Monday.

The Republican governor, known for his blistering remarks at times, argued the coach's behavior was "completely reprehensible" and animalistic.

"Listen, you have lots of successful coaches in this country at the college level who don't act this way," Christie said. "They don't conduct themselves like animals...What parent would let this animal back into their living room to try to recruit their son after this video?"

"I'll tell you this," he continued. "If I had a son who played basketball who was being recruited at a Division I level and I saw this video and this guy called trying to recruit my son to tell me that I should entrust my son to him for the next four years I would hang up the phone," he said.

Rice was fired Wednesday after ESPN broadcast a video - which the network said shows excerpts of practice sessions shot between 2010 and 2012-- in which the coach berated and shoved players as well as threw basketballs at them.

At the press conference, Christie defended the public university's president, Robert Barchi, from critics who say the president should step down over the scandal. Barchi's administration had conducted a probe into the situation in the fall but Barchi was not given a recommendation to fire Rice and did not see the videos himself until last week.

"He takes responsibility for anything that happens on his watch but my view on it is he should've looked at the videotape," Christie said. "But I do not believe not looking at the video tape was a fireable offense. He relied on the people that worked for him."

Despite the controversy, both Rice and the now-former athletic director Tim Pernetti, who resigned, are expected to walk away with hefty severance packages.

"Win or lose that is completely reprehensible, unacceptable conduct," he added. "To be using homophobic slurs and to be having the physical conduct with young men that he was having was simply unacceptable."

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