BOZICH: Will Julie Hermann Be Out Before She's In At Rutgers?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Julie Hermann does not work for Tom Jurich anymore, but the University of Louisville athletic director is one of the few people who can help Hermann at this point.
By going to bat for Hermann and the work she did as his top administrator at the University of Louisville one more time. Hermann needs a powerful friend. In fact, she needs a string of powerful friends because less than two weeks after she signed a five-year, $2.25 million contract to become the athletic director at Rutgers on June 17, she is already fighting for her job. She could be out before she is officially in.
Even Jurich might not be able to help his former senior executive senior associate. This is why:
Stories in the Newark Star-Ledger about Hermann's conduct while she was the volleyball coach at Tennessee in the early 1990s have created serious questions about her credibility as well as her ability to serve as the leader of an embattled athletic department that is making the transition into the Big Ten Conference in 2014.
The tabloids and sports gossip websites are feasting on this one. Rutgers hired Hermann to stop being a punching bag. Today the school is getting punched harder than ever.
One New Jersey columnist, Steve Politti of the Star-Ledger, has written THIS COLUMN arguing that Hermann should not have been hired. Her story has already made the front page of the New York Daily News – never the ideal way to start your next job.
Essentially the newspaper has questioned Hermann's truthfulness and reported that one of her volleyball teams at Tennessee complained about her abusive coaching style. An unscientific online poll at the Star-Ledger's web site has already drawn nearly 1,500 responses – and close to 86 percent do not want Hermann to become the Rutgers' AD.
Rutgers turned to Hermann because the Scarlet Knights needed new, progressive leadership after the school was disparaged nationally for its handling of the dismissal of men's basketball coach Mike Rice. Now you wonder if Rice and Hermann learned similar motivational tricks.
Rice was suspended and fined last season because of his abusive behavior toward players. During the week before the NCAA Final Four, ESPN obtained video evidence of how outlandish Rice's actually behavior was. He routinely threw basketballs at his players from close range and also berated them with profanity and homophobic language.
Rice was fired – as was Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti.
Hermann was summoned from U of L to fix the colossal mess.
Except now the Newark paper has shown that Hermann left a mess of her own at Tennessee – abusive and demeaning language as well as a lawsuit by one of Hermann's former assistant coaches. The coach won a $150,000 settlement because she believes she was fired for having a baby after Hermann suggested a pregnancy and child would not be beneficial for the assistant's career.
Hermann's former players wrote a letter to administrators at UT complaining about the coach's conduct and motivational approach. At least one told the newspaper that Rutgers had hired a former abusive coach to fix the culture created by an abusive coach.
The strangest tidbit of all from the story is a comment from Hermann that she did not recall even attending the wedding of Ginger Hineline, the former assistant who won the judgment. At her introductory press conference, Hermann said there was not video of her talking about Hineline's wedding night. She also told the paper she thought the couple had eloped.
"There's a video? I'm sorry, did you say there's a video? There's no video, trust me," Hermann said.
On its website, the newspaper has a video from the wedding. Hermann says, "... I hope it's good tonight, because I know you've been waiting for awhile. But I hope it's not too good because you don't want to come back in February with any surprises in the office at all. It'd be hard to have a baby in there and baby-sitting. Actually, I wouldn't mind it so much … I don't know."
The newspaper's video ends with one final shot: Julie Hermann, a bridesmaid at the wedding, catching the bride's bouquet.
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