In the aftermath of Rutgers’ decision to hire Julie Hermann as the school’s new athletic director, issues regarding Hermann’s past as a coach and administrator left the school embroiled in even more controversy.
On Wednesday Hermann met with the media in front of the Hale Center on the Rutgers campus briefly, and by all indications Hermann is still expected to begin her tenure on June 17. Hermann also met with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany (in New York), president Dr. Robert L. Barchi and Rutgers student-athletes on Wednesday.
When asked about the issues surrounding her time as head volleyball coach at the University of Tennessee, Hermann stated that she “had a failure” with the team but also noted that past experiences make her “uniquely qualified” for the position according to the Associated Press.
“That lesson of 17 years ago was honestly why I felt I was uniquely qualified, not only very qualified but uniquely qualified because I have been a student-athlete, been an assistant coach, been a head coach and now an administrator,” Hermann said. “I have been in every spot that exists in an athletic department, and I understand the challenges.
“I have been successful with them and I had a failure with them.”
Also of note on Wednesday was a story by Rachel Axon of USA Today, in which it was reported that the co-chair of the Rutgers search committee stated via email that Rutgers officials were aware of issues involving Hermann before deciding to hire her last month.
Those issues are the pregnancy discrimination suit filed by a former assistant at Tennessee in 1996 and a wrongful termination suit filed by a former employee at Louisville in 2008.
While the committee was aware of the two lawsuits, the same can’t be said of the letter written by members of the University of Tennessee volleyball team in 1996 which ultimately led to Hermann (then the head coach) no longer leading the program.
[Rutgers search committee co-chair Richard] Edwards said the search executive committee, of which there were six members including himself, was not aware of those claims.
“The reason we did not know is that it never came up in discussion with the former Athletic Director who had been Julie’s supervisor there or in discussion with Julie, nor did it come up in any of the background checks,” he wrote.
In 12 days Hermann will take over as the athletic director of a school that needs stability in the worst way. Will her “unique” qualifications (as she termed them) help push the program in the right direction? Or will the events of the last month plus ultimately torpedo Hermann’s tenure before it even begins?
Regardless of the answers to those questions, it’s become clear over the last two months that the athletic department is in serious need of stable leadership.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.