SBD/June 6, 2013/Colleges

Rutgers AD Julie Hermann Discusses Turmoil; Says She Is "Uniquely Qualified" For Role

Hermann thinks past lessons she has learned qualifies her to be Rutgers' AD
Incoming Rutgers Univ. AD Julie Hermann yesterday tried to "push past the turmoil that has dogged her arrival" at RU, according to a front-page piece by Craig Wolff of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. She said she feels "uniquely qualified" to handle her new role. Hermann at a news conference sounded "optimistic about the challenges ahead." At the same time, she "acknowledged the storm created by allegations she was at one time a verbally and mentally abusive coach had prompted her to think about withdrawing from a job she hadn’t even started." Hermann said, "I’ll go to the mat. I’ll deal with it, I’ll put up with it. I’ll deal with a national embarrassment." The conference "capped an orientation day of sorts for Hermann" after meeting with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and RU President Robert Barchi. Hermann also "met with a group of coaches" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/6). In N.Y., Christian Red writes following her meeting with Delany and Barchi, Hermann tried to "paint a positive picture of her past, particularly when she was the Tennessee head women's volleyball coach" and was accused of verbal abuse. Hermann when asked if she used derogatory words said, “I’m not a name caller.” She added, “That lesson of 17 years ago was honestly part of why I felt I was very qualified, arguably uniquely qualified, because I had been a student athlete, been an assistant coach, been a head coach, and now an administrator. I’ve been in every spot that existed in an athletic department and I understand the challenges, and I’ve been successful with them" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/6).

LOOKING FORWARD: Hermann said, "It’s been tough for everybody on campus. It’s been a bout of turmoil. I’m passionate about moving forward. … I look forward to getting focused on that starting June 17." Iin N.Y., Brian Lewis notes Barchi stood behind Hermann "figuratively if not literally, releasing a statement but not attending her 13:30-minute press conference, of which 3:40 was preamble." Hermann acknowledged fundraising "will be harder because of the scandal." Hermann also said that Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search was "aware of not just one but both lawsuits" against her (N.Y. POST, 6/6). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Rachel Bachman notes Hermann was "steadfast and serious as she looked toward" her start date (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/6). The Newark STAR-LEDGER provided a complete transcription of the press conference. In Newark, Tom Luicci writes Hermann shed "little light on the controversy" surrounding her hire and she did "not address her memory lapses" when asked to recall previous incidents (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/6). In N.Y., Lenn Robbins writes Hermann yesterday said "virtually nothing." By "virtue of the evasive or contradictory answers she gave to the 10 questions she faced, Hermann is determined to bury the controversy like a dog buries a bone." She "didn’t do Rutgers any favorites." She said that the RU search committee "did not ask her about the two lawsuits in her past." Robbins: "Was it a search done with blindfolds and ear plugs?" (N.Y. POST, 6/6).

MORE WORK TO DO: ESPN N.Y.'s Ian O'Connor wrote it "would've been funny to hear Hermann describe her turbulent experience as the University of Tennessee's volleyball coach as one that made her 'uniquely qualified' for Rutgers if it wasn't so scary." This "she-said, they-said scandal has always been a blowout: A woman with plenty to gain ... says one thing, and more than a dozen women with nothing to gain all say another." That is a reason to "jump to the obvious conclusion Julie Hermann might be the worst possible person for this job" (ESPNNY.com, 6/5). In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan writes Hermann's press conference "wasn’t nearly enough to convince a concerned, hurt and angry Rutgers public that she is still the right person to lead an embarrassed athletic department out of a string of recent scandals and into Big Ten success next year and beyond." It "wasn’t nearly enough to rebuild the bridge of trust back to the Rutgers public." Even as Hermann "tried to calm the waters, she touched off more waves of discontent." Sullivan: "Is this just a setup for failure?" (Bergen RECORD, 6/6).

PRESSURE RELEASE: In Newark, Steve Politi writes this "wasn’t a press conference to clear the air." This was a press conference to "make all the television cameras go away." This is what "$150,000 of crisis management advice buys you." The story will "die down now, at least as long as another skeleton from her past doesn’t tumble out of her closet." Politi: "How will Rutgers people respond to her? Will they give her a chance?" Hermann will meet "about 20 of the most prominent donors during an invitation-only session in New Brunswick" tonight, and the "response from those deep-pocketed alums will be telling" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/6). CBSSPORTS.com's Jerry Hinnen wrote despite the "continuing controversy surrounding accusations of her volatile professional past, it doesn't look like" Hermann is "going anywhere" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/5). Univ. of Wisconsin Deputy AD Sean Frazier yesterday said he wishes "nothing but the best" for both the school and Hermann. The Newark STAR-LEDGER's Luicci noted Frazier was the "other finalist with Hermann for the job." Frazier said, "The process was enlightening and made me better prepared for the next opportunity that may come my way" (NJ.com, 6/5).
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