Saying that "Julie's entire record of accomplishment ... is stellar," Rutgers University President Robert Barchi has issued a statement supporting the school's incoming athletic director — who has come under intense scrutiny because of allegations about how she treated players she once coached.
And the incoming athletic director, Julie Hermann, has also posted a message on Rutgers' website. It reads, in part, that:
"Over the years, I have tried to learn from each mistake, including the lessons I learned as a young coach. I have become a stronger leader, administrator and educator as a result. If you look at my 25 year career in athletics, I believe the record shows I am a steadfast advocate for student athletes. I intend to take that passion and hard-earned experience into my leadership role as Athletics Director of Rutgers University."
As Eyder reported on Sunday, Rutgers has hired Hermann to replace Tim Pernetti — who stepped down in April after it was learned that Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice had been videotaped assaulting his players and spewing homophobic slurs at them during practices. Pernetti lost his job because he had learned about Rice's misconduct last December, but agreed with the recommendations of the school's lawyers and human relations staff to only suspend the coach for three games and fine him $50,000.
Rice was fired in April after the videotapes went viral.
Over this past weekend, New Jersey's Star-Ledger reported that in the late 1990s, when Hermann was coaching the women's volleyball team at the University of Tennessee, players had accused her of ruling "through humiliation, fear and emotional abuse."
The Star-Ledger's report has, understandably, put pressure on Rutgers to explain how it came to hire Hermann if such allegations had been made about her. In Tuesday's Star-Ledger, columnist Steve Politi argues that the school is giving Hermann "the benefit of doubt that Tim Pernetti never received."
In his statement, Rutgers' president says the school's search for a new athletic director "included a thorough background check conducted by one of the world's leading private security firms." And, Barchi adds, "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."
After examining Hermann's record, Barchi says, "we remain confident that we have selected an individual who will work in the best interests of all of our student athletes, our athletics teams and the university."
In her statement, Hermann writes that:
"I know the recently published story has caused distress. I was never notified of the reported letter outlining the concerns of some former athletes. However, I am truly sorry that some were disappointed during my tenure as coach. For sure, I was an intense coach, but there is a vast difference between high intensity and abusive behavior."
Hermann, 49, is scheduled to start her new job in June. She has been an assistant athletic director at the University of Louisville for the past 16 years.