SBD/May 31, 2013/Colleges

Criticism Continues For Rutgers' AD Hiring Process; Was Hermann Pushed Through?

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Hermann was one of 63 initial candidates recommended by Parker
New details are emerging about the vetting process done by Rutgers Univ. in its hiring and background check of AD Julie Hermann which raise "serious questions about the thoroughness of the search," and how much Rutgers officials, including President Robert Barchi, knew about the hire, according to Steve Eder of the N.Y. TIMES. Sources and  internal e-mails show that it "felt rushed and secretive, leaving some elected officials, major donors and search committee members deeply uneasy with how Rutgers responded to one of the biggest scandals in its history." RU paid Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search $70,000 to "manage the search," and Parker has "come under criticism for its role in the process." Hermann was one of 63 initial candidates and Parker made RU "aware of two lawsuits in which she played a central role." But neither RU nor Parker were "aware of the existence" of a two-page letter written by Hermann's volleyball players at UT in which they said that she "abused them and forced them to 'endure mental cruelty.'" Members of the search committee have been "criticizing how the group’s leaders conducted the search." Sources said that the search process was "unmanageable because it included 28 members." Other sources said that they felt like Hermann had been "fast-tracked ahead of other candidates" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/31).

ON THE OFFENSIVE
: In N.Y., Lenn Robbins cites sources as saying that Parker, "apparently fed up with being collateral damage in Rutgers’ harried search for a new athletic director, yesterday went on the attack." A source said that the firm "knew trouble was brewing as they watched Hermann’s introductory press conference," as she "wasn’t being forthcoming with some of her comments." Parker did "not uncover the verbal abuse at Tennessee because the vetting of an athletic director is considered ‘low level’ in the business and that incident would not have been filed in any public record database" (N.Y. POST, 5/31).

VIEWS FROM BOTH SIDES: In Newark, Steve Politi writes in "separate interviews with a half dozen people within the athletic department this week, the same themes were repeated." They have "no idea how Hermann will lead them now." This is "not everyone," but just a "sample of voices." One athletics department official asked, "How can anybody trust her at this point? How can the staff trust her? How can donors? Parents? Coaches? The Big Ten? I don’t know how we’ll raise money" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 5/31). Louisville AD Tom Jurich, when asked if he would have done anything differently during the process, said, “I don’t think I would have. Why should I? Everything here was perfect.” Jurich said that he has "felt for Hermann during this tumultuous week." Jurich: “I see how everybody’s piling on and that’s easy to do, for people to pile on. Nobody’s giving her a chance. I don’t see many people at Rutgers standing up for her, and that’s what disappoints me" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 5/31).

CHERRY PICKING: In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes search committee co-Chair and RU alumnus Kate Sweeney "hijacked the entire search process ... and nobody ever stopped her." Sweeney "clearly decided a woman had to be the next Rutgers AD, became enamored of Hermann, and practically led her by the hand to her introductory press conference on May 15, where Hermann began to display a selective memory of her own life that is almost stunning" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/31).
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