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Former Univ. of Louisville Exec Senior Associate AD Julie Hermann yesterday was introduced as Rutgers Univ.'s new AD, with RU President Robert Barchi praising her "experience, vision and commitment," according to the Newark STAR-LEDGER. Barchi called Hermann a "proven fundraiser" at UL, adding she was "instrumental" in guiding the school's moves from Conference USA to the Big East and from the Big East to the ACC. Hermann becomes only the fourth woman to be an AD at an FBS school, joining N.C. State's Debbie Yow, Cal's Sandy Barbour and Western Michigan's Kathy Beauregard. Hermann said of the recent scandal that led to the firing of men's basketball coach Mike Rice and the resignation of former AD Tim Pernetti, "We need to be an open book. It is a new day. It is fixed. ... That will never happen again on this prestigious campus" (NJ.com, 5/15). Hermann will be paid $450,000 annually as a base salary with $50,000 in incentives and $35,000 contributed to a "deferred compensation plan" (AP, 5/15). In N.Y., Steve Eder writes Hermann's task is "not only managing the move to the Big Ten, but also repairing the image of the university’s athletic department and winning back supporters angered by the basketball scandal." Hermann: "We will no longer have any practice anywhere, anytime that anybody couldn’t walk into and be pleased about what is going on in that environment" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/16). In Newark, Steve Politi writes Hermann will have to "prove that she was more than just a good No. 2." She will have to "show that an administrator with limited experience dealing with revenue sports can not only make Rutgers a winner in the Big Ten, but overcome an atmosphere among alumni and fans that, in a word, has gotten ugly." She was "not a popular choice among many of the high-profile boosters who wanted somebody with experience leading a Division 1 football program" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 5/16).
HISTORIC HIRE: In Newark, Tom Luicci notes RU insisted the hire "had nothing to do with gender," but rather "qualifications, with 16 years spent as a college administrator." RU alumna, Morgan Stanley Senior VP and AD selection committee co-Chair Kate Sweeney said, "Yes, it's turning out to be historic. But the fact is she's the best candidate. She has the whole package." Rutgers women's tennis coach Ben Bucca said, "When she met with the coaches, I thought she expressed a really strong vision, and I got the sense of a natural, positive spirit. When I walked out of there I said ‘That’s an athletic director for all sports.'" Hermann: "We will do more with less. And that's exactly what we did at Louisville" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 5/16). ESPN.com's Andrea Adelson wrote the hire "signals a bold move for Rutgers." When asked whether he thought this might open more doors for women to become ADs, Louisville AD Tom Jurich said, "I sure hope so. I don’t know how many women have gone for those jobs, but I know she’s definitely ready. She’s going to do a great job at Rutgers. They’ve got an incredible asset who was my right-hand for 15 years. She was more than an employee, she was a very close friend and I’m going to miss her dearly. But I couldn’t be happier for her" (ESPN.com, 5/15). In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan notes Hermann "insisted her résumé is more than qualified to move Rutgers forward." Hermann "managed to defend herself without being defensive, a skill she no doubt will need for the duration" of her time at Rutgers. She "backed away from nothing" yesterday (Bergen RECORD, 5/16).
DRESSED TO IMPRESS: The Bergen Record's Sullivan said Hermann impressed Rutgers with her "personal skills." Sullivan: "She really impressed not only the coaches she met, but the other administrators and the people involved in the search committee. There's a lot to be said for Rutgers right now sort of going out of the box, being a little ground-breaking and getting a woman in this very high-profile premiere position." ESPN's Andy Katz said, "Getting her from a program right now that is one of the best in the country. ... Rutgers needed something where they could point to the credibility aspect going into the Big Ten because there's a lot of work to do before they make that move next year" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 5/15). The Newark STAR-LEDGER's Politi wrote Hermann has a "compelling back story that should bring positive attention." But Rutgers also is "hiring an administrator with no background leading the key revenue sports as it makes its difficult transition into the Big Ten" in '14. Politi posed 10 questions Hermann would face upon taking the position (NJ.com, 5/15). The STAR-LEDGER's Luicci noted Hermann's to-do list includes "improving morale in the athletic department" and to "pick up where Pernetti left off with planned improvements to the Rutgers Athletic Center" (NJ.com, 5/15). CBS Sports Network’s Allie LaForce said Hermann is an “incredible hire.” The net’s Doug Gottlieb added, “Incredible hire and she’s a very well respected part of Louisville’s program. Now, she’ll be with Rutgers and it’s a very difficult job" (“Lead Off,” CBS Sports Network, 5/15).
FLY ON THE WALL: The AP's J.P. Pelzman noted Hermann was "selected from a pool of 63 candidates following a national search." The "other finalist" was Univ. of Wisconsin Deputy AD Sean Frazier. Rutgers AD selection committee co-Chair and Rutgers Exec VP/Academic Affairs Richard Edwards "disputed a report that the executive athletic committee was deadlocked between Hermann and Frazier." Edwards said, "There was a report in the paper that there was a 3-3 vote. We didn’t even take a vote. We were charged by the president to come up with a final slate of candidates that were acceptable and that would be outstanding candidates" (AP, 5/15).
The "clear message" at next week's American Athletic Conference spring meetings will be that it is "time to move forward,” according to Desmond Conner of the HARTFORD COURANT. AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said the meetings, beginning Monday in Ponte Vedra, Fla., “We're a new conference, we want to be judged now on what we do going forward.” He added, "You have to have performance. We want to start getting the word out who is in our conference, why it's strong in basketball, why it's going to be very strong in football, but in the end you have to perform and I think our schools will." Conner notes the conference's logo “has been seen by member schools,” and the AAC is “expected to make it public in about three weeks.” Red and blue will be “well-represented.” The league financially “will be OK,” as it will have “a ton more money than the Mid-American or Conference USA, which the American gets grouped with.” Aresco said, "If we win, and I believe we will, we'll be fine" (HARTFORD COURANT, 5/16). Aresco: “We’re going to market heavily. We’re going to build this brand. We’ve got not only good (men’s) basketball and football, we’ve got some of the best women’s basketball. ... There’s a lot of pieces in place. What we’re asking is give us a chance and we’ll show what this conference is” (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 5/16).
WHO'S THE BOSS? ESPN.com’s Andy Katz noted Big East ADs and coaches will meet next week in Palm Beach, Fla., but they “still don't have a commissioner, let alone an office, a schedule and compliance bylaws and staff.” ADs are “getting anxious that a commissioner hasn't been named yet.” Presidents are “running the show and keeping the ADs in the dark.” The ADs wanted a commissioner “yesterday, or at the very least in time for next week's meeting.” But that “may not be possible.” If not, former Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe "will run the meeting” (ESPN.com, 5/14).
THE NEW GUY: In Orlando, Coley Harvey writes if Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick's “initial impression this week" at the ACC spring meetings is "any indication, the relationship between his school and the ACC will be firm.” Swarbrick said, "I certainly don't have a historical frame of reference, but the energy and excitement is really palpable. Focusing on basketball, no one's ever assembled a group of teams like this before. And the opportunity to play with that, if you will, and to take that out for a test drive and to figure out how to maximize it, it's hard not to be excited about it.” Harvey writes the ACC, with the additions of Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Louisville, will “strengthens its combination of athletics and academics.” Swarbrick: "It's the highest academic performing athletic conference in the country in terms of the FBS conferences. All of that is evident in the things they discuss and how they discuss it" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/16).
The ACC is "thoroughly investigating" playing its men's basketball tournament at Madison Square Garden, according to sources cited by Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com. A source said, "We'll be playing there. It's just a matter of getting all the legal ramifications worked out." The Big East Conference and MSG in March announced a 12-year deal through '26, but sources said that MSG can “get out of its deal" before '26 if the Big East "doesn't reach certain benchmarks” (ESPN.com, 5/15). ESPN.com’s Andy Katz notes MSG has “long wanted a regular tenant, based on the busy March schedule with outside events, as well as primary hosts the Rangers and Knicks.” The ACC is “reviewing MSG's deal with the new Big East.” MSG is “unlikely going to go with a conference that would only make a cameo in the building every so often.” The ACC is “not going to move the conference tournament out of North Carolina for more than one year every three or four years” (ESPN.com, 5/16).
ALSO ON THE MOVE? In Detroit, Mark Snyder noted the idea of moving the Big Ten football title game from Lucas Oil Field “intrigues some of the conference’s athletic directors.” Many are “pushing for indoor venues -- making Chicago’s Soldier Field a longshot." Ohio State AD Gene Smith said that he thinks Ford Field "deserves it.” Smith: “I love what Detroit has done with Ford Field and what they’re continuing to do with the area contiguous to that facility.” Snyder noted outdoor venues have “many logistical challenges, as many ADs have pointed out.” Smith: “I love Solider Field; I’m a traditionalist. There’s a place for that, maybe that’s more regular-season and neutral-site games” (FREEP.com, 5/15).
The Intercollegiate Athletics Review Committee at the Univ. of North Carolina-Wilmington yesterday recommended that the school "no longer sponsor teams in men's and women's swimming and diving, men's indoor track, men's cross country and softball beginning in the 2013-14 academic year," according to Brian Mull of the Wilmington STAR NEWS. A UNCW spokesperson said the final decision on the recommendations will be reached in the "coming weeks." The decision requires "approval of the chancellor and the Board of Trustees." UNCW Chancellor Gary Miller "appointed the committee in February, asking it to identify the optimal sports portfolio" at the school. UNCW's 19-team athletics department is "in a financial predicament and in dire need of upheaval" due to "instability in leadership, a struggling flagship men's basketball program, insufficient fundraising, northern expansion of the Colonial Athletic Association and aging facilities." Cutting the five sports would "eventually release 15.36 athletic scholarships and, over time, enable the department to reinvest nearly $900,000 in the remaining 14 programs, imperative considering expenses have exceeded revenues" by more than $1.4M the last three years. The athletic department's "reserve fund has decreased" by 82% since '09 and is approximately $2M short of the minimum six-month operating balance for programs sponsored by student fees." Donations to the Seahawk Club, UNCW's athletics fundraising arm, are "anticipated to be $400,000 to $500,000 shy" of the budgeted $1.047M in '12-13. The cuts would bring UNCW's total to a Division I-minimum 14 sports for the '13-14 school year (Wilmington STAR NEWS, 5/16).