Embroiled in yet another scandal involving a high-level employee in the athletics department, Rutgers University is not backing down. This time, the school is thoroughly behind its athletic director.
Over the weekend, shortly after Rutgers announced Julie Hermann as the university’s new athletic director, information came out that Hermann had been accused in two separate incidents while she was the women’s volleyball coach at the University of Tennessee. Despite these public revelations, however, Hermann isn’t going anywhere, says Rutgers.
“Rutgers was deliberative at every stage of this process,” said Rutgers president Robert Barchi, who’s endured speculation about his own job in the wake of recurring scandals. “Over the course of the search, Julie’s record established her as a proven leader in athletics administration with a strong commitment to academic success as well as athletic excellence, and a strong commitment to the well-being of student athletes.”
For her part, Hermann says she never considered resigning, and that she believes the community is behind her.
“I never considered withdrawing because I feel very qualified to lead Rutgers into the future and into the transition into the Big Ten,” Hermann said Monday during a conference call with reporters. “And I do feel the support of the Rutgers community.”
In one incident, Hermann lost a 1997 jury verdict which awarded her former assistant at Tennessee $150,000. The assistant, Ginger Hineline, accused Hermann of firing her for having a baby.
The court decision had been on public record, and Hermann was asked about the case during her introductory news conference with Rutgers. During that questioning, Hermann denied the existence of videotape evidence, which later came out to the public, calling Hermann’s integrity into question.
In the other incident, a number of volleyball players accused Hermann of abusive behavior at Tennessee. They said their coach called them “whores, alcoholics and learning disabled,” according to The New Jersey Star-Ledger. Other accusations include ridiculing the players’ weights and not allowing them to eat or shower.
Since the public revelation of these incidents, Rutgers has again come under fire for its perceived lack of vetting candidates for high-level jobs. Athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned and men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was fired in April because of a separate scandal, while men’s lacrosse coach Brian Brecht was suspended the same month while the university investigated claims of verbal abuse.
Then, after all of that, the university appeared to misrepresent the graduation status of its new men’s basketball coach, Eddie Jordan. On Rutgers’ website, Jordan was said to have earned a degree from the university in 1977, but it turned out that Jordan had never graduated. Jordan’s job was never considered in danger, but it was another embarrassing gaffe for Rutgers.