Jersey Beatdown: New Rutgers AD Accused of Past Abuse
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This goes deeper than Julie Hermann being named the new athletic director at Rutgers.
It goes deeper than incidents from Hermann's past catching up with her.
Rutgers is the state university of New Jersey. It's thus funded in large part by taxpayer dollars. Part of its budget is dedicated to administrators' salaries. That includes the university president and its athletic director. One would think appointments to those posts would be made in congruence with upholding the prestige and reputation that a state-funded institution should uphold.
One would think.
At this point, who really knows what happened 16 years ago at Tennessee when Julie Hermann was separated from the volleyball program? There are very strong statements from the Vols' team members, with most of them willing to go on the record. There is a $150,000 court settlement in favor of an assistant coach who filed an abuse claim against Hermann.
Then there is Hermann in front of the media conveniently forgetting about all that until she was confronted with proof of it. There is definitely a credibility issue, as university president Robert Barchi said the Tennessee incidents were investigated as part of their vetting process. How would the candidate not be aware of that and have it fresh in mind as a result?
Hermann has her defenders. There are contradicting accounts of what happened at Tennessee. There are endorsements of her 15 years of work afterwards. In short, there's everything a reeling university administration would want to roll out in a hurry after a firestorm erupts over a decision it has made.
And that's how deep it goes at Rutgers.
Yes, to err is human (if indeed an error was made) and yes, to forgive is divine. And no, casting the first stone isn't something most of us are qualified to do. But there's also a context here. There's a baseline of credibility that must be taken into consideration.
And right now, that credibility and context have little to do with Julie Hermann and whatever her past holds.
It has to do with the keeper of the public trust at Rutgers, President Barchi.
Given the situation from which the school's athletic department is emerging -- or attempting to emerge -- Barchi had no business even putting Hermann in the middle of it. She's not going to survive this controversy.
If Hermann ever had another chance to earn an AD position at a school where open wounds of abuse allegations aren't festering, it's now gone up in smoke. And whether Barchi should ever be trusted to make another decision involving the expenditure of public funds and the character of a university is a matter for the governor and regents to determine.
But, in the words of another high-profile New Jersey institution: