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Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Updated: May 30, 10:23 AM ET
Emails critical of Hermann process

ESPN.com news services

Emails obtained from members of the Rutgers 26-member search advisory committee that eventually hired embattled Julie Hermann as the school's new athletic director indicate that not everyone thought the process was as smooth as co-chairs Kate Sweeney and Richard Edwards did.

Sweeney and Edwards sent a message to the committee on Tuesday in support of the hiring process.

"As members of the Search Advisory Team, you all had the opportunity to examine Julie's credentials, to spend some time with her when she was on campus, and to provide us with your thoughts regarding her candidacy as Rutgers' next Director of Intercollegiate Athletics," they said. "As you know, there was strong support for Julie, and for what she could bring to Rutgers."

But in emails ESPN received from a source familiar with the situation, Ronald Garutti, a member of the committee and of the school's board of trustees, responded in part:

"Please, let us not at this late date attempt to convince ourselves and the public that there was sufficient time to delve deeply into either candidates's documents ...

"With 13-15 committee members present at the interviews, and with each member needing to be given the opportunity to ask their own questions, and with Julie's interview starting more than 15 minutes late, there was little or no time to ask follow-up questions, or probe deeply ...

"Please let's not present this as any kind of exemplary process. Subsequent events have proven otherwise."

Garutti stressed that his email to the search committee is something he does all the time after a project or program.

"This was a 'lessons learned' email to my colleagues, something I do all the time," Garutti told ESPN's Bob Ley of "Outside The Lines" on Thursday night. "I was trying to point out the things we could have done differently. In the future, such a large committee (26 persons) may not be needed. We needed to hear feedback on the candidates from the full committee."

According to Garutti, half of the committee met with each of the two finalists, Hermann and Sean Frazier, the deputy athletic director at Wisconsin.

Garutti also pointed out that the search committee was only part of the hiring process.

"There was the search firm, Parker," Garutti told Ley. "There was the executive search committee of six people, then the full committee. There were firms for background checks, and other groups and persons such as coaches and staff members, who wanted to meet with candidates."

Hermann's hiring has caused a firestorm since Saturday's story in The Star-Ledger (Newark) revealed details of a letter signed by 15 members of the 1996 University of Tennessee women's volleyball team. In the letter, according to the report, the players said Hermann, then the women's volleyball coach, called them "whores, alcoholics and learning disabled."

The Star-Ledger report said that after a team meeting, which included Hermann and the school's athletic director, Hermann said, "I choose not to coach you guys." She went into athletic administration at Tennessee and later moved to Louisville, where she spent the past 15½ years before being hired at Rutgers.

Two sources familiar with the search process for the new athletic director also told The Star-Ledger that the headhunter firm, Parker Executive Search, submitted an initial list of 47 candidates to Rutgers. Hermann was not part of that initial group, added later by Sweeney.

On Monday, Hermann told ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy in a phone interview that her job was safe.

"It's been communicated to me [by university president Robert Barchi] that I'm the athletic director and will lead Rutgers into the Big Ten," she said.

An individual involved in interviewing the candidates expects Hermann to take over as the AD at Rutgers.

"Unless something changes, unless something else significant comes up, there is confidence in (president) Barchi, and I expect Julie Hermann to assume her position on June 17," the individual said.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Hermann was part of a lawsuit filed by a former assistant track coach at Louisville who had been fired. According to The Times, assistant track and field coach Mary Banker approached Hermann, then a senior athletic administrator at Louisville, about what she thought was sexist behavior and "discriminatory treatment" by coach Ron Mann.

Banker, after taking her concerns to the human resources department, was fired within three weeks. The lawsuit said Hermann initially was supportive of Banker, but that she later said Banker should not have gone to HR.

Some of Hermann's former players at Tennessee and former colleagues at Louisville have come to her defense. Others, including former players, have continued to say their claims about Hermann are accurate.

Erin Zammett Ruddy, one of the 15 Tennessee players who signed the 1996 letter, wrote on her blog Wednesday:

"After our … season, the team got together -- sans coaches -- to figure out why we were all so miserable and why we felt so much animosity toward one another. We quickly realized Julie was the common denominator."

Ruddy later added in her blog: "Our intention today is not to see her suffer or to take her down in any way. None of us wants that. It is simply to tell the truth because we were asked. And because it is relevant. But we have all moved on from that time. Julie has moved on. And just because she was a bad coach doesn't mean she can't be a good administrator. Maybe her experience with us made her a better administrator. Who knows? Sure, she made mistakes but she paid for them at the time by losing her job at UT. It's only because she was hired at Rutgers—Rutgers!—in the wake of an abuse scandal that our past experience is even relevant. And it is, don't get me wrong. Everything in that letter is true. But I agree with what many are saying: This reflects worse on Rutgers than it does on Julie."

Hermann was hired by Rutgers on May 15 to replace Tim Pernetti, who was fired after an "Outside The Lines" report showed abusive behavior by men's basketball coach Mike Rice at practice. Rice also was fired.

On Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he supported Barchi's judgment.

A source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN that the same day in early April that the Rutgers men's basketball scandal exploded with the videos of Rice's abusive behavior, Pernetti was personally assured by Christie that his job was safe. Two days later, Christie reversed his position.