NCF Nation: Julie Hermann

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Arguably no major-conference school has generated more negative headlines in the past 14 months than Rutgers, leading to a common question among fans and media members: Does the Big Ten regret inviting the State University of New Jersey into the league?

[+] EnlargeJim Delany
AP Photo/Ting ShenBig Ten commissioner Jim Delany is firmly behind Rutgers, which joins the league on July 1.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany makes it clear he's firmly behind Rutgers.

"No buyer's remorse at all," Delany said Wednesday after the Big Ten administrators' meetings. "When I go to Jersey, I go to New York, I go to support, not to judge. Boards of trustees, they're fully capable of handling personnel matters. The Big Ten really does not get involved in personnel matters at the athletic director, coach, presidential level."

All three of those positions at Rutgers -- from new AD Julie Hermann to former basketball coach Mike Rice to president Robert Barchi -- have faced heavy criticism in the past year. Hermann declined several requests to speak with reporters this week.

Delany is spending much of his time on the East Coast promoting both Rutgers and Maryland before the two schools officially join the Big Ten on July 1. He mentions the Big Ten living in two regions at every media opportunity.

Athletic directors discussed the integration of both Rutgers and Maryland this week. Purdue's Morgan Burke, the Big Ten's longest-tenured AD, said the league has improved in assisting new programs with the transition since some missteps with Penn State in the early 1990s.

Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis hasn't heard much negative reaction from Spartans fans about Rutgers, but he has heard some questions.

"When the Big Ten Network was discussed, there were many more negative comments about the Big Ten Network than there were about expansion to the East," Hollis said. "There's a good understanding of why we're there. [Rutgers and Maryland] can prove themselves to be great members of this conference that will take us to a new frontier.

"I look forward to making them, like all of us, a stronger member of the conference."

Rutgers eager for its B1G step up

February, 12, 2014
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On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Kyle Flood held his first team meeting with the 2014 Rutgers football players. Flood spent time explaining the program's move to the Big Ten, including the division the Scarlet Knights would play in (the East) and where the league championship game is held (Indianapolis).

"I wanted them to know up front exactly how it was all laid out," Flood told ESPN.com.

A detailed road map should come in handy, because Rutgers is about to enter some uncharted territory.

[+] EnlargeKyle Flood
AP Photo/John RaouxKyle Flood is making sure Rutgers is prepared as possible for its move into the Big Ten.
Unlike fellow recent Big Ten expansion teams Maryland and Nebraska, the Scarlet Knights will join what is considered a football-centric power league for the first time. The Terrapins and Huskers also boasted some history of conference titles -- much more so, obviously, for the latter -- while Rutgers never won an outright championship in either the Big East or American Athletic conferences.

It's not like big-time football is a foreign concept in Piscataway, N.J. The Scarlet Knights competed against Miami and Virginia Tech in the old Big East, as well as some very good West Virginia, Syracuse and Louisville teams. But Flood said the "week-in and week-out physicality" of the Big Ten may require some adjustments by his team, and that's one reason he and his coaching staff focused on loading up on linemen on both sides of the ball during the most recent recruiting period. Their end game was more about depth than pure beef.

"If you go out with the goal of getting bigger, you can get less athletic," he said. "What we’ve tried to do is accumulate more, so that we have more available to us throughout the season, but without sacrificing the athletic ability we need to play with in our system."

The question is now how well that system will fare in the Big Ten.

Rutgers hosted the first college football game against Princeton in 1869 but was largely irrelevant in modern times until Greg Schiano resurrected the program in the early 2000s. Flood served as Schiano's offensive line coach from 2005 until Schiano left for the NFL after the 2011 season, and the team's philosophies -- aggressive defense and a low-risk, pro-style offense -- haven't changed much. The Scarlet Knights never got over the hump to claim the Big East BCS bid, and other than the magical 11-win season of 2006, they were never really much a national factor.

Still, consistency has been a hallmark, as the team has gone to seven bowl games in the past nine seasons.

"We have shown to be a team that can compete with anyone," first-year athletic director Julie Hermann told ESPN.com. "We expect to be a bowl team. We have been a consistent winning program over the last decade and look forward to playing on the national stage of the Big Ten."

The school needs to upgrade its overall athletic facilities in order to reach Big Ten standards, but the football infrastructure -- including the 52,454-seat High Point Solutions Stadium -- is on pretty solid footing. There are also some lingering concerns about Rutgers' monetary muscle; Flood's $851,000 salary will be the lowest in the Big Ten and is not far above some assistants' pay in the league. But the Scarlet Knights did just hire former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen to call offensive plays and will make him one of the league's best-compensated coordinators at $500,000 per season.

Hermann said Flood's salary pool for assistants is around $2.5 million, which would compare favorably to the rest of the Big Ten. The influx of Big Ten revenue, which will eventually dwarf what Rutgers was making in the Big East and the AAC, should prove a major help.

"We will need to invest in our program to get top coaches like Ralph Friedgen and to retain key personnel," Hermann said.

No one can question Rutgers' emotional investment in the Big Ten move. The school and its fan base had dreamed about a Big Ten invitation for years, and the financial windfall and stability the league offered provided the perfect lifeboat out of the sinking AAC. The Scarlet Knights saw a significant season-ticket increase immediately after the Big Ten announcement in November 2012 and should see another bump this year with Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin coming to the banks of the Old Raritan. Big Ten senior associate commissioner Mark Rudner said the Oct. 4 game against Michigan "has probably generated as much interest as any game in the preseason."

Lou Nordone can't wait for that game, or for the inaugural Big Ten opener against Penn State on Sept. 13. Nordone serves on the executive committee of the Rutgers Touchdown Club and says he has handled the team's official game balls on the sidelines for 129 straight Scarlet Knights home games. Nordone suffered through some lean years with the program and envisions the Big Ten meaning big things.

"It's great not only for Rutgers but for New Jersey and the surrounding areas," he said. "It's going to put Rutgers on the map nationally, instead of just locally."

Rutgers just has to make sure it can navigate some uncharted football territory.


ESPNNewYork.com columnist Ian O'Connor had some more choice words for Rutgers after athletic director Julie Hermann addressed the media and did little in the way of dispelling concerns about her appointment.

O'Connor writes:
So that's it. Julie Hermann filibusters and dodges and deflects for some 780 seconds before reporters gathered outside Rutgers' athletic facility Wednesday, and it's game, set, match made in heaven.

A scandal-scarred university is going forward with its scandal-scarred athletic director-to-be, and Rutgers president Robert Barchi declares that "Julie and her team will set the stage for a great transition" into the Big Ten, which should be positively thrilled.

The conference had a conspicuous hole on its roster that Barchi can perfectly fill now that Ohio State president Gordon Gee has decided to retire his polka-dot pajamas, big red nose and floppy shoes.

It would've been funny to hear Hermann describe her turbulent experience as the University of Tennessee's volleyball coach as one that made her "uniquely qualified" for Rutgers if it wasn't so scary. She actually believes a coach accused by an entire team of calling her players "whores, alcoholics and learning disabled" is the ideal fit for a university that employed a men's basketball coach, Mike Rice, recently fired for verbally and physically abusing his team.

To read the whole column, click here.

O'Connor makes some strong points, but it seems pretty clear Rutgers is not going to go back down on this decision unless another bombshell or two drops. Hermann has got a major challenge ahead of her, and none of them have anything to do with a move to the Big Ten or worrying about how the football team will do this season.

Video: Julie Hermann visits Rutgers

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In a news conference Wednesday, Julie Hermann said she is anxious to get to work as athletic director at Rutgers, a job she is supposed to start June 17.

Hermann, Rutgers coaches meet

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Rutgers incoming athletic director Julie Hermann visited the campus Wednesday and was to meet with coaches and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney.

The embattled Hermann, whose appointment has come under fire since it was discovered that players on the University of Tennessee volleyball team she coached in 1997 complained she had been verbally and emotionally abusive, also plans to hold a news conference at 4 p.m.

Hermann, who is to start at Rutgers on June 17, has denied the allegations. She said that she had not heard of the letter until last week.

Her visit is another clear indication that university president Robert Barchi is not backing down from Hermann's appointment despite calls from state politicians, who are upset that she was not vetted properly.

The university's board of governors has the right to replace Hermann, but the school would probably owe her $2.25 million based on her five-year, $450,000 contract.

To read the full story, click here.

Julie Hermann meetings delayed

June, 1, 2013
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Rutgers officials have postponed a series of on-campus meetings that incoming athletic director Julie Hermann was scheduled to be a part of next week, according to the Newark-Star Ledger.

No explanation was given as to why the meetings were delayed, the newspaper reported.

Hermann, scheduled to start as the school's AD on June 17, was expected to meet with athletic administrators and several coaches.

To read the full story, click here.

 
It just keeps getting worse for Rutgers and newly appointed athletic director Julie Hermann.

Hermann, still dealing with the backlash from her rocky tenure as Tennessee's volleyball coach, is at the center of another lawsuit, filed while she served as a Louisville administrator. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Hermann had been named in a sexual discrimination suit filed by Mary Banker, a former Louisville assistant track and field coach.
According to the legal filings obtained by The Times, Hermann initially was supportive of Banker after hearing of her complaints. In an email to Banker, Hermann wrote: "Thank you ... We're lucky to have you ... You're a change agent ... don't let their limitations take you out of the game ... thank god you're here."

According to a filing, Hermann expressed concern after Banker went to HR with her complaints about [head coach Ron] Mann.

"Hermann called Banker into her office and flat-out told her, 'You should not have gone to HR,'" the filing states, adding that Hermann allegedly told Banker: "I don't know how I'm going to restore trust in you amongst staff now," and "I don't know how you're going to work downstairs after this."

The Times reported that Banker sued the University of Louisville Athletic Association after she was fired, claiming Hermann was largely responsible for her dismissal. A jury awarded Banker $300,000, although a Kentucky appeals court overturned the verdict.

Rutgers says Hermann discussed Banker's lawsuit with its search committee and legal counsel.

Read more on the situation here.
Incoming Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann, already accused of abusive behavior toward student-athletes during her time as the women's volleyball coach at Tennessee, is the focus of another lawsuit -- this one during her time at Louisville in 2008.

According to a report in the New York Times, assistant track and field coach Mary Banker approached Hermann, who was then a senior athletics administrator at Louisville, about sexist behavior and "discriminatory treatment" by head coach Ron Mann. After taking her concerns to human resources, Banker was fired within three weeks.

For more, click here.
The Big Ten's addition of Rutgers in November generated little enthusiasm outside the Garden State.

But most critiques, eye-rolls or shoulder shrugs about the Scarlet Knights stemmed from the fact their football program didn't move the needle much regionally or nationally. Rutgers' profile as a university -- major research institution, AAU member, located in a state contiguous to the Big Ten footprint -- fit seamlessly with the Big Ten and was an easy sell to the league's presidents and chancellors.

There wasn't a question of institutional competency in November. There is now.

Still reeling from the Mike Rice scandal, the ouster of popular athletic director Tim Pernetti and the Eddie Jordan degree debacle, Rutgers once again finds itself in the news for the wrong reasons. New AD Julie Hermann is in the crosshairs after a report from The (Newark) Star-Ledger in which Hermann's former volleyball players at the University of Tennessee accused her of verbal abuse. The newspaper reports that Hermann quit her post at Tennessee after all 15 players on the 1996 team had submitted a letter accusing Hermann of "mental cruelty" and alleging that she called players "whores, alcoholics and learning disabled."

Hermann told The Star-Ledger that she didn't recall the letter and told ESPN that she never used those terms with the players. Hermann also told ESPN that Rutgers president Robert Barchi assured her that she won't lose her job, a claim backed up by a statement Rutgers issued Monday. Hermann also released a statement calling the allegations "heartbreaking."

"This was not an abusive environment," Hermann told ESPN. "Was it challenging? Yes. It was incredibly challenging. Was I aware players were unhappy? I was unaware by the end of the season. We had so many challenges with this group of women."

[+] EnlargeJulie Hermann and Robert Barchi
Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesRutgers president Robert Barchi is standing by his new AD, Julie Hermann, despite the recent scandal.
Hermann's former colleagues have come to her defense, but her former Tennessee players aren't backing down from their allegations, despite all the time that has passed.

Kelly Hanlon Dow, a sophomore on the 1996 team, told The Star-Ledger, "How ironic that Rutgers had an abusive coach [Rice] and they're bringing in someone who was an abusive coach."

Hermann also told The Star-Ledger that she didn't recall attending the wedding of her former Tennessee assistant Ginger Hineline, who later sued the school alleging that Hermann had discouraged her from getting pregnant. The Star-Ledger acquired a video from Hineline's wedding in which Hermann, who was a bridesmaid, joked about the difficulty of Hineline bringing a baby into the volleyball office.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wants answers, and other state leaders expressed their disappointment in the school, which said it considered 63 candidates for the athletic director spot and that Hermann quickly emerged as a top contender.

Hermann said neither Rutgers' search committee nor the outside firm the school hired to assist in the search asked about the allegations from the Tennessee players.

Sure, the allegations against Hermann took place a long time ago, and it's a she said/she said situation. Hermann had no known issues in an exemplary career as an administrator at Louisville. But the timing and the nature of the allegations create a real mess.

Rutgers is getting ripped by the New Jersey and New York media, bringing more negative attention to a school and to an athletic program that can't seem to get anything right. Steve Politi, a columnist for The Star-Ledger, writes:
How did Rutgers let this happen? Who, exactly, does the vetting for this university? This was not some monthlong investigation that found these players. They were contacted during the basic reporting that goes into any profile of a public figure in an important job.


Where does the Big Ten fit into all of this? Technically, Rutgers isn't the Big Ten's problem until it joins the league on July 1, 2014. Still, so much bad press for a future member that received so little good press at the time it joined the Big Ten looks, well, bad for the conference.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany stood by Rutgers after the Rice scandal, and there's no indication that Rutgers' status as a future league member is impacted at all by the Hermann situation. But there has to be some level of concern about the institution and how it handles personnel matters. These last two months have been a disaster.

Are demographics really worth all of this? The answer is yes.

Although the recent scandals have rocked Rutgers, the campus itself hasn't moved. And that's all that matters to the Big Ten -- having a new member located close to major markets. The Big Ten didn't add Rutgers because of its on-field performance or its (in)ability to hire and fire coaches and administrators. The addition of Rutgers always was about the Big Ten finding a way to showcase its existing product in newer, bigger areas. Rutgers still provides an in to the New York market.

It will be interesting how the situation evolves in Piscataway and whether Hermann and Barchi keep their jobs. The Big Ten would love to have the whole thing go away as soon as possible.

Video: What should Rutgers do with AD?

May, 27, 2013
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Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith discuss in light of recent allegations what Rutgers should do with its newly hired athletic director Julie Hermann.

Ex-colleagues defend Rutgers AD Hermann

May, 26, 2013
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A former Tennessee women's volleyball assistant coach and a number of staffers at Louisville came to the defense of new Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann on Sunday, denying allegations made by her former Vols players and championing her character during a 15-year tenure as an administrator at Louisville.

"I was in every huddle and involved in every volleyball substitution, and what they are saying is crazy," said Kim Tibbetts (formerly Kim Zenner), an assistant coach under Hermann beginning in 1992.

For more, read Andy Katz's report here.

Report: Alleged abuse by Julie Hermann

May, 26, 2013
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NEWARK, N.J. -- The woman hired to clean up Rutgers' scandal-scarred athletic program quit as Tennessee's women's volleyball coach 16 years ago after her players submitted a letter complaining she ruled through humiliation, fear and emotional abuse, The Star-Ledger reported Saturday night on its website.

"The mental cruelty that we as a team have suffered is unbearable," the players wrote about Julie Hermann, hired May 15 as Rutgers' athletic director after serving as the No. 2 athletic administrator at Louisville.

Read more on Hermann by clicking here.
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NC State athletic director Debbie Yow does not know Julie Hermann, but she is thrilled nonetheless.

You can understand why. Hermann is now part of a club with only a handful of members. A club that has not seemed to grow in membership over the past 20 years, despite more women playing sports, more women coaching and more female sports teams than ever in collegiate athletics.

Hermann became the third female athletic director at a BCS-level school when she was hired Wednesday to take over the Rutgers athletic department, joining Yow and Sandy Barbour at Cal. The hire signals a bold move for Rutgers, in the middle of an athletic department mess with a move to the Big Ten looming.

But will it end up being a move that opens more doors for females with designs on becoming athletic directors? That question gets murkier. Dating back to when Yow got her first AD job at a BCS school -- at Maryland in 1994 -- there have never been more than three female ADs at any one time at BCS conferences.

Hard to believe that no progress has been made over such a long period of time, especially when strides have been made in virtually every other area.

"I understand it completely," Yow said during a break at the ACC spring meetings at Amelia Island, Fla. "These jobs are very challenging to secure and there are an ample number of qualified women. But they usually involve key boosters and those key boosters are often times men. I don’t have any statistical data to support this, but they have a challenging time seeing themselves on the football team plane with that female athletic director.

[+] EnlargeRutgers' Julie Hermann
U of L Card Game.comShortly after being introduced as Rutgers' athletic director, Julie Hermann was facing abuse allegations from her former volleyball players at Tennessee.
"In my case, I was blessed at Maryland the men on the committee who were key boosters really could see that. That’s how it happened. It’s very challenging for women to get these jobs."

Yow pointed to a study conducted by R. Vivian Acosta and Linda Jean Carpenter titled "Women in Intercollegiate Sport" that pointed out women had a better chance of becoming presidents at BCS schools than athletic directors.

According to that study, 10.6 percent of Division I athletic directors were females in 2012. In 1998, that number was 9.9 percent. If you look at the FBS level, only 4.9 percent of athletic directors were female in 2012.

For her part, Hermann has worked at the side of one of the top athletic directors in the entire country at Louisville in Tom Jurich, one of four nominees for AD of the Year. Louisville has made tremendous strides under Jurich and seen incredible success in the last year, joining the ACC while winning a BCS game, men's hoops title and playing in the women's title game.

Hermann said during her introductory press conference in New Jersey, "(Athletics) is male-dominated, but in my building it's not male-dominated, it's probably-female dominated. We have Tom surrounded. And on the other hand I've been a woman in collegiate athletics my whole life. I don't know anything different other than the men that helped us make it happen."

When asked at the ACC spring meetings whether he thought this might open more doors for women to become athletic directors, Jurich said, "I sure hope so. I don’t know how many women have gone for those jobs, but I know she’s definitely ready. She’s going to do a great job at Rutgers. They’ve got an incredible asset who was my right-hand for 15 years. She was more than an employee, she was a very close friend and I’m going to miss her dearly. But I couldn’t be happier for her."

Yow is thrilled, too. Though it feels as if progress in this one area has been nonexistent, seeing Hermann get a job at a school headed for the Big Ten is progress in itself. She would be only the second female AD in Big Ten history when Rutgers joins the league in 2014 (Michigan State's Merrily Dean Baker from 1992-95 was the first).

Whether this sets a trend or not, Hermann is the one who went out and got this job for herself.

"It’s terrific, terrific for the league, terrific for her, terrific for the thousands of women who aspire to becoming a director of athletics at this level," Yow said.

The glass ceiling has another little crack. Joyous news indeed.
Rutgers is hiring Louisville's Julie Hermann as its next athletic director, colleague Brett McMurphy reports. The Star-Ledger first reported Hermann's hiring, and an official announcement is expected later Wednesday.

Hermann, who currently serves as Louisville's executive senior associate athletic director, will become the second female athletic director in Big Ten history, following Merrily Dean Baker, who was Michigan State's AD from 1992-95. Hermann beat out Wisconsin deputy AD Sean Frazier for the top job at Rutgers, where popular AD Tim Pernetti resigned last month in the wake of the Mike Rice scandal.

Hermann has spent the past 15 years in Louisville's athletic administration working under AD Tom Jurich. She currently oversees 20 sports, including women's basketball, as well as the marketing department, the sports medicine group and the strength and conditioning staff.

She has a Big Ten connection (sort of) as a volleyball player at Nebraska, where she helped the Huskers win four Big Eight championships. She was Tennessee's head volleyball coach in the 1990s, and spent one year as an assistant for USA Volleyball.

Hermann becomes one of just three female athletic directors at a BCS-level program (N.C. State's Debbie Yow and Cal's Sandy Barbour are the others).

More to come on Hermann's hiring later today and this week ...
Score one more victory for Louisville in its banner year of athletics.

The Cardinals' senior associate athletic director, Julie Hermann, has been hired by Rutgers as its new athletic director, sources told our Brett McMurphy.

Hermann replaces former AD Tim Pernetti, who resigned after men's hoops coach Mike Rice was fired.

To read more, click here.

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