Rutgers didn’t have a spring to remember.
After being forced to fire former head coach Mike Rice after a video of him verbally and physically abusing his players, and after Athletics Director Tim Pernetti was forced to resign because he didn’t fire Rice when he first saw the video, Rutgers went out and hired new head coach and alum Eddie Jordan that never actually received his degree before hiring Julie Hermann as their new AD.
Hermann, if you’ve forgotten already, then had a number of skeletons drawn out of her closet, which included an incident from her stint as a volleyball coach at Tennessee where she partook in the same bullying behavior that got Rice axed.
After months of getting relentlessly pounded by the media, Rutgers has finally had a chance to catch their breath.
And now they are trying to fight back against perception, as Hermann sat down with Tara Sullivan of NorthJersey.com to discuss the issues surrounding her hiring. In regards to the treatment of her team at Tennessee, Hermann said:
“I responded about the letter. Never seen the letter. Never heard of the letter. My boss said she never saw the letter or heard of the letter. So I’ve never heard of that. And I said that publicly already,” Hermann said. “Was I aware that we were dealing with a ton with that team? Yes. And because of that, from that team what I learned, was when you have that much going on with a group of young people, it no longer becomes about the sport.”
Pressed for details about the types of problems her team was dealing with, Hermann said, “I don’t want to disrespect those women. A lot of my silence is respecting that. It’s very [difficult]. But to me it’s the only thing to do.”
When asked about her inability to recall being in the wedding party of a former assistant coach — a wedding where she caught the bouquet — that sued the school, Hermann said:
“Because of what I do, I go to a million weddings, and I’ve been in a million weddings,” Hermann said. “You’re talking about a wedding 20 years ago that, by the way, wasn’t a big production. I think she said, ‘You wear a size 12, and here’s your black dress.’ And I do not intend to be facetious, but when you’re 6 feet tall and a volleyball player, you always catch the bouquet. I took some heat about the bouquet.”
This really isn’t all that different from how Hermann has handled answering these questions all along, and the bottom line is that none of it bothers Rutgers enough to remove her from her current position. She’s not going anywhere regardless of how many times her name is printed in a negative light.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.