Rutgers Rescinds Eric LeGrand's Invitation to Speak at Commencement

By DJ Byrnes on May 6, 2014 at 6:29a

UPDATE (1:07 PM): Let Rutgers tell it, and this was merely a "miscommunication." LeGrand will speak at commencement. From Rutgers' official site:

Eric LeGrand will speak at our Commencement and personally receive his degree from [Rutgers President Robert Barchi] as a representative of the Class of 2014.

It was never our intention that Eric would be the only speaker. We have resolved that miscommunication and are delighted to have him participate.

Rutgers doesn't join the Big Ten officially until July 1st, and Jim Delany might have his lawyers checking the return policy on the Scarlet Knights this morning.

Rutgers, you see, had offered Eric LeGrand, a former football player who was paralyzed while playing for the university, a chance to speak at Rutgers' upcoming commencement. Naturally, the kid was elated.

Rutgers' athletic director Julie Hermann, however, called LeGrand on Monday to inform him Rutgers was going in a different direction. That direction is former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean, who didn't even attend Rutgers.

Rutgers is claiming this was a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing in that multiple offers were made. Rutgers, in its infinite wisdom, decided it was a young man who was crippled in the service of the university who should be the one to take the fall.

I'll let Adam Jacobi take it from here:


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JFKBuckeye's picture

Very disappointing to hear. That young man gave up his quality of life representing that university on the
football field. He deserves better than this. Totally classless move by Rutgers.

+6 HS
AndyVance's picture
+2 HS
northwest_buckeye's picture

Rutgers... It's a Jersey thing; We wouldn't understand.

I've never said I 'hate' anyone because that would imply I had any emotion for them whatsoever.

+11 HS
BHT's picture

The tweet said it best, this is a classless move by Rutgers. They don't belong in the B1G. If I were at Rutgers, I would rather hear from Mr. LeGrand than some governor.

+1 HS
Jason Gruber's picture

Wow. That's pretty low. I would imagine that guy was pretty stoked to have that honor. 

"You win with people." Woody Hayes

"If winning isn't everything, why do we keep score?" Vince Lombardi

"¯\_(ツ)_/¯" Joey Bosa

BUCKSOMIES's picture

Wow.  I don't think classless comes close to describing this.  Rutgers is not only in the lower tier of the Big, they ARE the lower tier.

+3 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

Julie Hermann being Julie Hermann

+3 HS
buckeyepastor's picture

It was the university's mistake.   Let the university be the one that has to adjust by allowing time for a second speaker.   Ripping it away from this student is lousy.  I get that the university was in a bit of a difficult spot because Condoleeza Rice withdrew on account of protests about her coming to speak.   They owe this young man some time in the commencement to address the students, even for 5-10 minutes.  

As I said, this happened after Rice was forced out as speaker.  I get that students want a speaker that they like at their commencement, for it to be a big name person, I guess.   But it's become so routine for students to rise up like micro-managing bride-zillas and vote off the island any speaker that might have done or said something in their lifetime that they disagree with.   It's gotten a bit ridiculous.  

The year I graduated from OSU, Shimon Peres (former Israeli Prime Minister) spoke at commencement.   I'm sure that there were a lot of students there that did not like or agree with his ideology or politics, but that wasn't at all the topic of the day, of course.    His message was meaningful and uplifting, whether people liked everything about him or not   Rice was an instrument in the invasion of Iraq which I think is terrible, but her life's work is WAY bigger than that.   

Again, Rutgers brought this mess on themselves, and now they are throwing a match on it.   Sad. 

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

+9 HS
doofenshmirtz's picture

If I was Thomas Kean, I would personally tell Rutgers that I couldn't do it this year, but next year, and that if they need someone to fill in on such short notice, Eric LeGrand would fit the bill rather nicely.

+3 HS
TMac's picture

If they aren't going to respect the students - Rutger's could do the right thing, Kean can do the right thing - then the graduates might as well chant "We want Eric" for the duration of Keans remarks. 

John Glen spoke at my graduation, But I had to look that up. 

ONE Not Done!

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

David Gergen (former WH adviser to several presidents) spoke at my graduation as the official speaker.  I still maintain that my actual speaker was Chris Spielman, as he and the late Stefanie were honored.  He got one hell of an ovation and gave one hell of a speech.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

+1 HS
Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

Given their previous behavior why do the students deserve any respect? Note that is completely unrelated to the Legrand issue.

Our commencement speaker was Philip S. Kitcher.

TMac's picture

Previous behavior?, other than be bad at sport?  I didn't realise that the graduating students had done anything to lose respect. While my suggestion that they chant durring a speach is absolutely disrespectful. To me one of thier own with an inspirational story is more compelling than a former governor. 

ONE Not Done!

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

Previous behavior?, other than be bad at sport?

The reason Dr. Rice pulled out is because students stormed the administration building, started arguments with the Vice Chancellor & damaged school property.

+2 HS
TMac's picture

I didn't know it went that far

ONE Not Done!

+1 HS
Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

FWIW I believe the damage was mostly accidental but still a ridiculous display.

+2 HS
TMac's picture

Go Rutgers!!

No Seriously, Please GO Away!

ONE Not Done!

+7 HS
Crumb's picture

Man what are they smokin' in Jersey these days?

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

Danify's picture

That's a disgusting move by the higher ups at Rutgers. Kid went all out for your university and you kick his face in the dirt for no good reason.

tennbuckeye19's picture

Remind me again why the Big Ten added Rutgers?

+2 HS
703Buckeye's picture

Because they forgot they could have had Syracuse instead of this dumpster fire.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

+2 HS
GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

Or Boston College

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

BuddhaBuck's picture

Can Jim Delany and the B1G Ten call Rutgers and tell them they're going in a "different direction"?

Don't text while driving.

+7 HS
RedStorm45's picture

Thanks Delany.  This, the basketball coach...what an addition to the conference.

+4 HS
alust2013's picture

In addition, I think it's better for the students when the commencement speaker isn't a politician. I don't want to listen to a political speech at commencement. My commencement speaker in December was R.L. Stine, and that was a lot of fun. He is an OSU alum and made it a point to be different with his speech.

...and Michigan still sucks.

+1 HS
dubjayfootball90's picture

wow, that just sucks, man.

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

SilverState's picture
+1 HS
Jeeves's picture

Darn I didn't get my harumph in! Did Rice cancel or were the administrators at Rutgers bullied into disinviting her?

+1 HS
Hovenaut's picture

I'm beginning to wish Jim Delany "miscommunicated" that conference invite.

You home, Syracuse?

+5 HS
SilverState's picture


+4 HS
blh's picture

And this is now trending on Facebook. Well done DJ

Buckeye Beast's picture

I follow him on twitter, he's a great guy. I just hope he'll be able to walk again

Even Squirrels hate Michigan

+1 HS
CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Well, at least it looks like they fixed this situation.  If they offered the guy a chance to speak then they should let him do it.  It would have been pretty crappy to go back on that offer.  I'm sure all of the negative attention finally got them to do the right thing.  I also would be pretty interested in hearing his speech.  I think it will be a pretty emotionally charged one.  Best of luck to Eric LeGrand! 

Buckeyeneer's picture

Rutgers has the uncanny ability to choose the worse course of action no matter what the situation is.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

+2 HS
jestertcf's picture

L-O WTFutgers. Worst possible PR nightmare in recent memory.

~Because we couldn't go for three~