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Friday, May 31, 2013

Rutgers Saga Continues

Wild on Sports
The Rutgers Saga Continues: 
New AD Isn’t What She Appeared
By Wild on Sports Analyst Bryan Ridall

After the video of Mike Rice, the Rutgers Men’s Basketball coach, surfaced; which showed him throwing basketballs at players and using offensive slurs at players, Rutgers needed to remake its overall sports image. Rice was fired after an ESPN report which showed hours of the footage, and eventually Athletic Director Tim Pernetti was fired as well, because it was shown that he knew about this well before the report and did very little to deter Rice. To replace Rice, Rutgers turned to Eddie Jordan as their head Men's Basketball coach, who it was found, lied about graduating from Rutgers. Rutgers, needing a new AD and a new face of the university, turned to Julie Hermann, after paying a vetting company $70,000 to make sure that she was clean. However, in the last few days, allegations of abusive treatment towards players have surfaced, and it seems that this AD is the same as the basketball coach they were trying so hard to distance themselves from.

Hermann’s first allegations stem from her time as Tennessee’s Women’s Volleyball coach, a position she held from 1991-1996. During Hermann’s time at Tennessee, the volleyball team only made one NCAA Tournament appearance and had only two winning seasons. However, Hermann left a lasting impression on her players, who described her as an abusive and menacing coach. Hermann was forced to resign after all 15 of her players wrote a letter to the athletic director describing the humiliation as well as the emotional abuse that Hermann utilized to try to motivate and coach her players. Hermann was also accused of abusing her power when handling other coaches on her staff. In 1997, a jury awarded $150,000 to a former Tennessee assistant coach who claimed that Hermann fired her because she became pregnant, saying that “it would interfere with job performance.”

While Hermann moved on to Louisville to become a senior athletics administrator, her disrespectful and rude behavior towards players seemed to be a thing of the past. However, Hermann has been named in a lawsuit against Louisville, in which former assistant track coach Mary Banker alleges that she faced sexual discrimination and was fired after pursuing a complaint of hers to the human relations development. Banker claims that after being ignored by the head track coach when expressing her concerns of discrimination, she went to Hermann to discuss her treatment. Banker says that again she was ignored, this time by Hermann and after being ignored for the second time, Banker went to Human Resources, which enraged Hermann. Banker stated that she was called into Hermann’s office and told that because of the incident with HR, she could not be trusted, and was subsequently fired less than a month later. While Hermann contends that Banker’s firing was due to lack of performance, Banker was never told she was doing a poor job and wasn’t given more of an explanation when she was being fired that “it’s not a good fit.”

Scandals have followed new Rutgers Athletic Director Julie Hermann everywhere she has gone, and now that they have come to light, Rutgers is at a difficult impasse. Rutgers is supposed to join the Big 10 in the 2014 season, which is a big jump from the Big East. The Big 10 is a prestigious conference that has had many title-winning teams, and teams that have long and successful histories in college sports. Rutgers has only won 1 NCAA Championship in any team sport, and haven’t been relevant in either basketball or football, the two sports that generate the highest revenue for the school. The Big 10 is still dealing with the scandal that has surrounded Penn State since the breaking of the Jerry Sandusky news, and it isn’t a conference that takes institutional incompetence lightly. Though it is unlikely that Hermann will lose her job or that Rutgers will lose its Big 10 bid, this situation could have Rutgers on a short leash with the Big 10 executives. If more scandals are uncovered about Hermann, her tenure as Rutgers AD could be extremely short-lived.


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