Rutgers fails to tackle problems head-on
by Christine Brennan, USATODAY Sports
Julie Hermann may well yet survive as Rutgers’ new athletics director, if only because surviving controversy is what some at Rutgers do best. University president Robert Barchi already has survived one massive athletic department scandal this spring, and is now onto his second. At least for the time being, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has decided not to focus his considerable energy on the two of them, which means they are now free to continue to twist in the wind.
Over the past two months, we have learned that Rutgers runs the most cavalier athletics department in the nation, and that’s saying a lot because the nation includes Miami (Fla.) and Southern California and Penn State. Rebounding from the ugly, abusive videotape scandal that cost both men’s basketball coach Mike Rice and athletics director Tim Pernetti their jobs, Rutgers embarked on a search to replace both men that should have been accompanied by this two-word mantra: Be careful.
It wasn’t. The school went out and found itself a new men’s basketball coach, Eddie Jordan, trumpeting him as a Rutgers graduate. Only problem was, he wasn’t. The one school that could not make that mistake made that mistake.
Then Rutgers employed a search committee that barely searched, but nonetheless came up with a rising star in the BCS ranks, one of the masterminds of Louisville’s recent sports resurgence, the 49-year-old Hermann. From all outward appearances, it was a smart move for the times, elevating just the third woman to the job of athletics director at a BCS school – North Carolina State’s Debbie Yow and California’s Sandy Barbour are the others – and ensuring that when Rutgers enters the Big Ten in 2014, it would be giving the conference only its second female AD ever, after Michigan State’s Merrily Dean Baker in the 1990s.
But then the stories started coming, specific stories from Hermann’s past that the search committee should have known about, but missed, mostly. She knew about some of them, though, and should have realized, as do so many women in the male-dominated sports world, that all women, especially trailblazing women, need to … [For more on Brennan: Rutgers, new AD fail to tackle problems head-on, click here.]