Embattled Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann started her tenure on Monday.
ESPN via the Associated Press reports Hermann’s No. 1 job is to create an atmosphere for Scarlet Knights students to excel on and off the field. She showed up for work before most of her employees Monday morning and started the task of leading an embarrassed athletic department back to respectability, winning back boosters and alumni and leading the the university into the Big Ten Conference in 2014.
She released an open letter to the student-athletes late Monday afternoon on the university’s athletic website. She promised to create a best-in-class student-athlete care system which will develop programs geared toward athletic and academic pursuits.
“Another of my goals is to make the most of our extraordinary opportunity to join the prestigious Big Ten Conference. Being a member of the Big Ten will provide exciting new possibilities, not only for Rutgers as an institution, but also for you, as a student-athlete. I look forward to conducting a comprehensive strategic review of all aspects of Rutgers Athletics as we prepare to compete against the best in the nation.”
USA Today Sports’ Keith Sargeant says creating new revenue streams for a $64 million athletics department that relies heavily on university-provided subsidies through fundraising will be chief among her duties.
Sargeant also points out that while the otal record or Rutgers’ 24 teams in 2012-13 stood at 186-161-2 and is considered above average, the Scarlet Knights combined to finish 69-90-2 in conference play, with only one team (football) winning a share of a Big East title, only one team (women’s soccer) qualifying for the NCAA tournament and nine of 13 teams finishing in the bottom half of their respective league championship tournaments.
Tom Canavan of the Associated Press notes Hermann was hired on May 15 but came under fire when her former volleyball players at the University of Tennessee claimed she verbally and emotionally abused them. Hermann has denied the allegations.
Rutgers was also embroiled in a recent scandal when former men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was accused of verbally and physically abusing his players. The verbal assault reportedly included anti-gay slurs. He was subsequently dismissed within days. Former athletic director Tim Pernetti was forced to resign two days after Rice’s firing for his handling of the case.
The hiring of former Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Eddie Jordan to replace Rice was intially thought of to alleviate the tensions. However, the university was embarrassed when it put out Jordan’s autobiography saying he graduated when in fact, he didn’t.
Louisville Cardinals women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz believes Hermann – who directed 20 of the Cardinals’ 23 sports during her tenure – will be successful as Rutgers athletic director, per Sargeant.
“With Julie, it was just her management style. She would stop by just about every day and see what we needed. It wasn’t just about how many games have we won. She actually would ask what she could do to help us win more.”
That being said, it sure seems the Rutgers University athletic department is in good hands with Julie Hermann.