Rutgers drama continues
The Rutgers athletic situation has turned into a soap opera.
Think about everything that has happened. It has been a total embarrassment and humiliation. This was a proud university, one I had the good fortune to work at in the '70s. I know the people there have a great passion for their institution, a love of education as well as sports.
Looking back at the past year, it has been incident after incident, negative findings over and over again. It all started with former basketball coach Mike Rice and the videotape coming out showing abusive behavior. That led to the dismissal of Rice, who admitted he had no excuse for the way he acted.
Then there was athletic director Tim Pernetti, who was fired for his handling of the Rice matter. Next came the news that the new basketball coach, former Rutgers player Eddie Jordan, did not actually have his degree after it was reported that he graduated from the university. At least he can go back and work on that; the school should not have said he graduated.
I do not believe this will affect Jordan as a coach, but it will have a negative influence on recruiting. Sitting in a room and talking to a recruit and his family about education is tough when you don't have that degree yourself.
Now there is the controversy over the hiring of new athletic director Julie Hermann. Did Rutgers really do its homework on this hire? A lot has come out since her appointment. The former Tennessee women's volleyball coach was criticized for her actions by the entire team in a letter that became public. It was not one player complaining of verbal abuse and negativity, but all 15 of them. An assistant coach won a lawsuit in which she claimed she was let go because she was pregnant.
A report in The New York Times indicated another suit was filed while Hermann was working at Louisville in 2008, claiming sexual discrimination.
I am all for giving people the benefit of the doubt. People make mistakes, and a lot of people at Louisville have praised Hermann for her work as an administrator. I understand Hermann's desire to move on, that things happened years ago.
Back then, some of that stuff was a way of life in coaching, not that I am saying it was right. Some of the coaches over the years were yelling, screaming and cursing out their players. It was different motivation back then, sometimes intimidation.
What really bothers me about this scenario is Hermann saying she did not remember the existence of that letter written by the Tennessee women's volleyball players. Hermann also said she did not remember making comments when she was at a wedding, and then a video of her remarks popped up.
I have a real problem with that. Just be honest about the past. Admit that you learned from your mistakes. Come on, I can understand if you were a lot older and forgot things, but I do not buy this selective memory.
Rutgers deserves better than this. It is time to move on. It deserves to be in good hands as it moves to the Big Ten.
The school president, Robert Barchi, has said he will support Hermann. It is not an easy situation because the athletic director is often involved in fundraising. How many boosters are going to buy in at this point? This situation has been very shaky.
The bottom line is the controversy is not going to go away. It is in the headlines every day. Pernetti admitted that he made a mistake over the Rice fallout and he did not get a second chance. Perhaps the school should have given him another opportunity.
Rutgers must move on in a positive way now. It has been one humiliating situation after another. I am afraid that this soap opera will continue. We will have to see how it plays out for Hermann and the Rutgers athletic department.
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