For the past week, I tried figuring out why incoming Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann is so embattled. The Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, took time out from touring Hurricane Sandy ravaged portions of his state with President Barack Obama to answer questions as to why the State University, Rutgers, was hiring Julie Hermann. So, I typed Julie Hermann into Google. After five pages, seven articles, six blogs, all of which were dated two weeks or earlier than the current revelations about her checkered past.
The guy Julie Hermann is scheduled to replace on June 17th, Tim Pernetti, was fired in disgrace after supporting his head basketball coach, Mike Rice, when a video showed up of Rice hitting, slapping, screaming homophobic slurs at, and throwing basketballs at the heads of his players. The coach that replaced Rice, Eddie Jordan had a resume falsely saying he’d graduated from Rutgers, and he’s still on the job. So, this new athletic director, a six-foot tall red head with a serious demeanor and a reputation as a tireless worker would be clean as a whistle right? I don’t think Rutgers has the right search engines.
Using Google and Yahoo, I discovered Julie Hermann, while the head women’s volleyball coach at the University of Tennessee in the early to mid 1990s, was accused of using fear, intimidation, threats, and humiliation on her fifteen players and at least one assistant coach. I watched a video from a wedding reception in 1994 where Julie Hermann told her frenemy, and bride of less than an hour, Ginger Hineline, to try to come back from the honeymoon pregnant. A year later, she fired Ginger Hineline when Hineline revealed she was expecting. Hineline sued Hermann and the University of Tennessee. She received over $150,000.
Another click revealed that Hermann left her gig at Tennessee two years later, 1997, when all of her players filed into the athletic director’s office and delivered a letter detailing years of verbal taunts of “whores, alcoholics, and losers”. They accused their coach of making them do push ups as punishment, sometimes as many as 150, during games. Hermann quit soon after with a losing 77-106 record. She followed her mentor, Tom Jurich, to Louisville University. Jurich took the athletic director post and brought Julie Hermann as his right hand; assistant athletic director.
So, even if Rutgers discovered all of this with their 26-person search committee, the conclusion they drew was that Hermann sucked as a coach but ruled as an administrator with Louisville and that’s what they were hiring, a fund-raising check cashing pencil pusher? Yeah, well, maybe not.
This time I used Bing, because I hear it’s fun and less porny. During Julie Hermann’s 15 1/2 years at Louisville, she was successful. The Cardinals athletic department quadrupled their athletic revenues. They experienced unprecedented success in all of their sports; men and women’s programs. But in 2009, Mary Banker, a former assistant track coach, complained to Louisville Human Resources department officials and her sister in arms, Julie Hermann, about gender discrimination from her male track coaches and athletes. Hermann initially backed Banker in a email calling her”a change agent for Lousiville”. Then, it appears, Hermann got all Tennesseeish again. Hermann called Banker into her office after the compliant was filed and told her “you should not have gone to HR” and “I don’t know how you’re going to work downstairs after this,”. Oh snap. Surely Rutgers found this on the internet, too, and asked her about it before hiring Hermann? I mean, as athletic director of anything, your chief job is make sure that all laws, rules, and procedures are followed.
Julie Hermann appears to have made more friends than enemies during her twenty-five of college service. Even Chris Christie’s backing her with a vote of confidence. But after playing around on the web for an hour with Julie Hermann’s name, reading the depositions from her former volleyball players, an assistant coach she didn’t want to have a baby, and seeing her shady behavior during the Louisville lawsuit that Banker before it got overturned, it appears Julie Hermann is quite impressive. She’s shown us all that the glass ceiling for being a bully and a creep isn’t confined to the males, she’s shattering it for females, too.
If I could find out all of this goofing on a laptop, then the question for anyone associated with Rutgers is, “did you background check Julie Hermann, at all?” You had a 26-person search committee and a 6-person Elite list final committee that selected her. What were they doing, playing Candy Crush? Rutgers national profile since February has been one of incompetence. They were slow in firing two first class jerks in former athletic director Tim Pernetti and the psychotic human fire ant Mike Rice. Then they hire a new basketball coach with a fasle resume. And here comes Miss America Julie Hermann.
At best, Hermann is a liar and a bully. When confronted with the Tennessee sins, she said she didn’t remember any of it. That’s right, a 15 player mutiny and firing the woman who’s wedding you attended and threatened on her wedding reception video and she wants get all Oliver North. In fact she assured reporters there was no video and the happy couple’s wedding she was a bridesmaid for and caught the bouquet at, eloped. What? We have the internet, Julie, nothing is forgotten, ever.
At her worst, Hermann is everything that’s wrong with college athletics. She emphasizes money and influence over the safety of players and rights of employees. Julie Hermann may be fit to direct episodes of The Real World on MTV but not a state University’s athletics department.
The arrogance of everyone involved in this saga is astounding. It also shows the power of the Internet and how it can bring ruling classes to their knees. Fire Julie Hermann before the Scarlet Knights become the Scarlet Letters, permanently.