Rutgers athletic department is a train wreck, and I’m not simply talking about the fact that every decision that they have made over the course of the last six month has been the wrong one.
It’s so ugly, yet I can’t look away. I keep waiting for the next bombshell.
If you need a refresher, buckle up:
In April, basketball coach Mike Rice was fired because a video surfaced of him abusing his players in practice by throwing balls at their head and by using gay slurs directed at them. A few weeks later, athletic director Tim Pernetti — who had done an unbelievable amount for the school’s sports programs, including getting them into the Big Ten — was fired in large part because he allowed Rice to work for five months after he saw the video. To replace Rice, Rutgers hired Eddie Jordan, who claimed to be a graduate of Rutgers but had never actually received a degree from the university.
The latest scandal involves the hiring of the new athletic director, Julie Hermann, who lost her job as the women’s volleyball head coach at Tennessee for doing basically the same thing that Rice was fired for: being a bully of a head coach.
Since that news leaked out over the weekend, it’s been one black eye after another: Hermann was involved in a sexual discrimination lawsuit at Louisville; she claims to not remember a letter that her team confronted her with at Tennessee; she claims to not remember being a bridesmaid in the wedding of a former assistant that accused her of mistreatment for getting pregnant.
Rutgers paid $70,000 to run a background check on Hermann.
That means one of two things: Either Rutgers spent an unnecessary amount of money on a worthless background check despite the fact that two days before Hermann was hired, the Newark Star-Ledger tried to tip them off about her issues at Tennessee; or they knew about Hermann’s past and thought that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to hire her despite the fact that reason her coaching career ended is the exact same reason that Rutgers is in this mess in the first place.
So, Rutgers, you’re either ignorant or incompetent.
It gets better.
Last night, ESPN.com ran with a report detailing emails that they had obtained from the 26-member search committee. (Yup, Rutgers had a 26-member search advisory committee decide to hire Hermann.) My favorite was this one, which came from the two co-chairs of that committee:
“As members of the Search Advisory Team, you all had the opportunity to examine Julie’s credentials, to spend some time with her when she was on campus, and to provide us with your thoughts regarding her candidacy as Rutgers’ next Director of Intercollegiate Athletics,” they said. “As you know, there was strong support for Julie, and for what she could bring to Rutgers.”
Translation: Y’all had a chance to complain, but like us, you didn’t have a clue. If we go down, we’re bringing all of you with us.
What a disaster.
But I can’t stop watching.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.