Rutgers takes back invitation for paralyzed football player to speak at commencement
On Saturday, Eric LeGrand got wonderful news. Rutgers University, his alma mater wanted him to give this year’s commencement speech later this month.
The decision came after former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice announced that she would not be giving the speech, after a wave of protests from faculty and students at the school.
It was Greg Jackson, chief of staff for Rutgers President Robert Barchi who offered LeGrand the speaking engagement. Then something strange happened. The school took the invitation back.
LeGrand, a former Rutgers football player who was paralyzed from the neck downduring a game in 2010, told NJ.com that he was incredibly excited about the opportunity. “[Jackson] asked if I could do Rutgers a favor and give the commencement speech,” LeGrand said. “I was like, ‘Wow, thank you for offering.’ [Jackson] goes, ‘Yeah, absolutely. Talk it over with your family this weekend. Let’s touch base again Monday.’ I was all amped all weekend. I was like, ‘This is perfect. I’m going to have to give a speech to everybody.'”
When LeGrand called back on Monday, he said Jackson gave him the impression that everything was a go. Later that day, however, LeGrand got another call, this time from Rutgers Athletic Director Julie Hermann.
Hermann told him that he wouldn’t be giving the speech after all. Barchi hadselected former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean to give the speech instead. Legrand said Hermann told him that Barchi had “decided to go in another direction for political reasons.”
LeGrand told the Ashbury Press that he was “very upset” by the decision. As a former player for the school, he planned on sharing his story with the crowd.
According to the Associated Press, after speaking with the President, LeGrand will now be one of the featured speakers at the May 16 ceremony. President Barchi there had been a “miscommunication” with LeGrand about the speeches. LeGrand will be a speaker at the event, but not the keynote speaker.
It appears as if this commencement controversy is causing more stress than it should.
Thoughts on Rutgers’ decision to grant LeGrand the honor of speaking, take it back and then partially bestow it again?
Sound off below!