LeGrand to Speak at Rutgers Commencement After Initial Invitation Rescinded
By Sarah Rodriguez
Eric LeGrand will be speaking at the Rutgers University Commencement later this month.
LeGrand, a former Rutgers football player who was paralyzed in a game in 2010, decided to accept Rutgers’ second invitation to speak at the upcoming Commencement after he stated his original invitation was rescinded.
According to USA Today, LeGrand was offered the chance to speak on Saturday by President Robert Barchi’s chief of staff, Gregory Jackson. However, according to LeGrand, he did not hear back from the Rutgers officials until after the former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean was announced as the Commencement speaker Monday.
All of this follows the decision by original commencement speaker Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State, not to speak because of the controversy surrounding her appearance. Rice made her decision approximately two weeks before the upcoming commencement.
Rice pulled out of her scheduled Commencement appearance on Saturday after student protests and faculty debates about her political involvement with the Iraq war.
“It was never our intention that Eric would be the only speaker,” University president, Robert Barchi, said in a statement made Tuesday afternoon. “We have resolved that miscommunication and are delighted to have him participate.”
These statements came following a tweet LeGrand posted on Monday after failing to hear back from University officials.
After Barchi announced that LeGrand would be added to the program, LeGrand told ESPN.com that he was excited to be joining Kean.
“I’m very happy that I will get to speak to the students,” LeGrand told Darren Rovell of ESPN.com following Barchi’s statement on Tuesday afternoon. “I just hate that it had to go down this way and just wish everyone was on the same page.”
LeGrand has served as an inspiration to many in his quest to walk again following his paralyzed spinal cord injury in 2010. He is highly popular within the Rutgers community.
This past January, LeGrand earned his degree in labor studies after six years. The setting of the upcoming commencement will be in the place Legrand called home throughout his collegiate football career, High Point Solutions Stadium.
LeGrand told ESPN.com that he is not one to write down his speeches, he plans to say what he’s feeling in the moment. Whatever that may be, LeGrand ultimately wants the focus to remain on the graduating seniors.
“Eric holds a special place in the hearts of the Class of 2014 and the entire university community,” Barchi said in a statement made Tuesday. “We are thrilled that he will be joining us on stage to make this special occasion ever more memorable.”