Comment
0
Tweet
0
Print
RSS Feeds

Rutgers stands by new AD despite abuse allegations

Tuesday - 5/28/2013, 3:20pm  ET

FILE - In this Wednesday, May 15, 2013 file photo, Julie Hermann listens during a news conference where she was introduced as the new athletic director at Rutgers University, in Piscataway, N.J. Hermann, hired to clean up Rutgers' scandal-scarred athletic program, quit as Tennessee's women's volleyball coach 16 years ago after her players submitted a letter complaining she ruled through humiliation, fear and emotional abuse, The Star-Ledger reported Saturday, May 25, 2013, on its website. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

TOM CANAVAN
AP Sports Writer

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Rutgers is standing by its incoming athletic director despite allegations she humiliated and verbally abused players during her coaching days, with the embattled president of the prominent university saying he is looking forward to her first day on the job.

It's the latest in a series of difficulties for the school, which lost its previous men's basketball coach and chief athletic executive to an abuse scandal, and then had to acknowledge its new men's coach had not graduated from Rutgers after it previously said he did.

Julie Herrman officially takes over the athletic department on June 17, and on Monday she said she plans to be in the position on that date. And the university is standing 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 (Conference)," Hermann said during a conference call in response to a report in the Star-Ledger of Newark. "And I do feel the support of the Rutgers community."

President Robert Barchi said in a statement that the university looks forward to her running the athletic department. He added that she was the best of the 63 candidates interviewed for the job of succeeding Tim Pernetti.

"Rutgers was deliberative at every stage of this process," Barchi said. "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.

Despite the Star-Ledger report, Barchi said Hermann's entire career is stellar.

"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."

Speaking to four reporters on a conference call in which each participant was allowed two questions, Hermann denied having knowledge of a letter written by the 15 players on Tennessee's volleyball team. She said her former boss never heard of it and she never heard her former players make the allegation.

Rutgers officials have talked to her about it in recent days, she said.

Hermann acknowledged she was an intense coach and may have made a few mistakes handling her team. The 49-year-old administrator said she has matured and believes she is qualified to lead the scandal-marred Rutgers program.

It was Hermann's first comments since the Star-Ledger's story on Sunday revealed that the Tennessee volleyball team in 1996 sent a letter to the school in which the players said Hermann called them "whores, alcoholics and learning disabled."

Hermann left the following year to work with the United States national volleyball team.

"As I recall, Julie Hermann did not continue as our head coach only due to a lack of significant improvement in her final season overall record with the Lady Vol volleyball program," former Tennessee athletic administrator Debby Jennings wrote in a message to the AP.

Jennings filed a federal lawsuit against the University of Tennessee last September alleging age and sex discrimination led to her forced retirement at the age of 57 in May 2012.

In the past two days, state lawmakers have criticized Hermann's hire and Gov. Chris Christie has said he will speak with school officials about the report. Barring a resignation, only the university's board of governors can withdraw Hermann's appointment.

The governor appoints six of the board's 11 voting members and can wield pressure through a variety of ways, perhaps by threatening to cut school funding or refusing to renominate a board member who doesn't support his view.

With President Barack Obama scheduled to tour the New Jersey shore Tuesday to see the rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, it is unlikely Christie will turn his attention to Rutgers until Wednesday.

Former New Jersey Gov. and current State Sen. Dick Codey was furious with the latest controversy at Rutgers, saying officials made Pernetti the scapegoat after video of men's basketball coach Mike Rice physically and verbally abusing his players during his three-year tenure came to light in early April.

Rice, who initially had been suspended, fined and ordered to undergo anger management counseling, was fired by Barchi the day after the video was broadcast. Pernetti was forced to resign two days later.

"His successor is someone who is an obvious liar, a flat-out liar," Codey said in a telephone interview with the AP on Monday night. "She shouldn't be the AD anywhere, whether it's Rutgers or anywhere else. She should stay in Louisville and not come back to the state, and Barchi should go to Louisville himself because he is not a leader. It's dumb and dumber."

   1 2  -  Next page  >>