SBD/May 29, 2013/Colleges

Rutgers Defending Decision To Hire Julie Hermann As AD Amid Allegations

Several lawmakers and RU donors have already called for Hermann to step down
Rutgers Univ. officials have "unexpectedly had to defend their selection" of new AD Julie Hermann against "accusations of her misconduct dating to a coaching job she held in the 1990s," according to Steve Eder of the N.Y. TIMES. In addition to allegations of abuse while the Univ. of Tennessee women's volleyball coach in the mid '90s, Hermann also was at the "center of a 2008 sex discrimination lawsuit" at the Univ. of Louisville during her time as Exec Senior Associate AD. In that case, an assistant track & field coach said that she "went to Hermann to complain of what she considered sexist behavior and 'discriminatory treatment' by the head coach." Within three weeks of her "taking her concerns to Louisville’s human resources department, the assistant coach, Mary Banker, was fired." The lawsuit, which "holds Hermann largely responsible for the decision to fire Banker, is likely to intensify the roiling dispute at Rutgers over the hiring of Hermann in the wake" of former RU basketball coach Mike Rice's abuse case. Some lawmakers and RU donors yesterday "called on Hermann to step down, and they said the athletic department had become an embarrassment" for the school and President Robert Barchi. RU Senior Dir of Media Relations Greg Trevor said that the school's counsel and search committee co-Chair Richard Edwards were "aware of the sex discrimination lawsuit and had discussed it with Hermann before her hiring." Aside from "discussing the Louisville case with Hermann, it was unclear what steps, if any, Rutgers officials took to investigate it" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/29). RU BOG and Exec Athetic Committee member Candace Straight said that "despite published reports the board had been aware of the lawsuits and determined that neither were a factor in their decision to recommend Hermann." However, an anonymous RU dean who took part in the search said that she was "'mystified' and 'dumbfounded' that a search firm didn’t find red flags about the woman who was chosen for the job" (Newark STAR LEDGER, 5/29).

WAS SEARCH THOROUGH? In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan writes RU and Barchi have "maintained one unassailable truth: that the search process they followed was thorough and transparent." But a source said that that "wasn’t the case, providing details of a sometimes secret and often rushed procedure that left the bulk of the 26-member advisory committee in the dark until the night before they were told they would meet the two finalists." That description "stands in direct contrast" to what Barchi said Monday (Bergen RECORD, 5/29). ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil wrote under the header, "Rutgers Back To Being A Punch Line." The "real problem ... is Rutgers and, more specifically, the people in charge." RU took a "flier on a woman with two lawsuits filed against her and a team that accused her of the same horrific cruelty that got Rice rightfully canned." Then it "hoped no one would notice or, if they did, no one would care" (ESPN.com, 5/28). SI's Lee Jenkins said, “There was one kind of person they could not hire, it was someone that had abuse in that candidate's background. And she obviously has it.” Jenkins: “When we do a feature about a guy, I think we do more research into that person than Rutgers athletic department did into Julie Hermann” ("Rome," CBS Sports Network, 5/28). The N.Y. Daily News’ Bob Raissman said, “To think that the process could go on twice where they wouldn’t be able to find this out -- or if they did find it out and they kept it to themselves -- you got to wonder who’s doing the leg work for them” (“Daily News Live,” SportsNet N.Y., 5/28). ESPN's Michael Wilbon asked, “What kind of vetting process do they got at Rutgers?” ("PTI," ESPN, 5/28). In Columbus, Michael Arace writes under the header, "Rutgers' First Gift To Big Ten? A Black Eye." The RU athletics department is, "at the moment, among the most scandal-ridden" in the country (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 5/29).

DAMAGE DONE: In N.Y., Lenn Robbins writes, "Regardless of who is lying and who is telling the truth (if anyone), the clouds of doubt that have settled over the Garden State likely aren’t going to dissipate any time soon." An AD "must be a fundraiser, which begs the question: Who in their right minds would give a $2 bill to Rutgers after the goings on that have played out the past six months?" (N.Y. POST, 5/29). In Louisville, Tim Sullivan writes rather than "admit a mistake, it appears, Rutgers has chosen to compound it" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 5/29). Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan said, “Why Julie Hermann is still employed, why Robert Barchi is still employed, why the house has not been entirely cleaned at Rutgers at this point mystifies me” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 5/28). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said Hermann and Barchi both "should be fired immediately" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/28). In Providence, Jim Donaldson asked, "Can't Rutgers do ANYTHING right?" RU should be "redfaced with embarrassment" (PROVIDENCEJOURNAL.com, 5/28).
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