By Ian Bush

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey governor Chris Christie talked publicly for the first time today about the Rutgers men’s basketball coaching scandal.  He says he still has faith in the state university’s president — even though it took too long to fire the coach.

Christie was on vacation in Jamaica when ESPN aired the footage of Mike Rice hurling basketballs and slurs at his players.

“All reports tell us that this conduct was going on in some form or fashion for three years,” Christie noted today.

After watching the video, the governor says there’s no doubt the coach should have been fired long before Rutgers finally took action.

“What parent would let this animal back into their living room to try to recruit their son? …And I can tell you this. If I had been shown this tape in November, I would have used my persuasive powers to make sure that Coach Rice was gone,” Christie said.

Now, after Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti resigned, people responsible are being held accountable. But Christie says Barchi — despite missing the chance to watch the Rice video in November (see related story) — deserves to keep his job.

“Dr. Barchi made a mistake when didn’t ask to see the videotape,” Christie said today. “He admitted that mistake. In my mind, that’s not a fireable offense. And I think it would be bad for the university and its future in all aspects to have a change of leadership right now.”

Christie says the million dollar-plus severance package that former athletic director Tim Pernetti is collecting (see related story) is reasonable.

“And now, we need to move on,” the governor added.

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