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The latest on the disaster that is Rutgers’ athletic department

May 30, 2013, 10:55 AM EDT

Rutgers

Rutgers athletic department is a train wreck, and I’m not simply talking about the fact that every decision that they have made over the course of the last six month has been the wrong one.

It’s so ugly, yet I can’t look away. I keep waiting for the next bombshell.

If you need a refresher, buckle up:

In April, basketball coach Mike Rice was fired because a video surfaced of him abusing his players in practice by throwing balls at their head and by using gay slurs directed at them. A few weeks later, athletic director Tim Pernetti — who had done an unbelievable amount for the school’s sports programs, including getting them into the Big Ten — was fired in large part because he allowed Rice to work for five months after he saw the video. To replace Rice, Rutgers hired Eddie Jordan, who claimed to be a graduate of Rutgers but had never actually received a degree from the university.

The latest scandal involves the hiring of the new athletic director, Julie Hermann, who lost her job as the women’s volleyball head coach at Tennessee for doing basically the same thing that Rice was fired for: being a bully of a head coach.

Since that news leaked out over the weekend, it’s been one black eye after another: Hermann was involved in a sexual discrimination lawsuit at Louisville; she claims to not remember a letter that her team confronted her with at Tennessee; she claims to not remember being a bridesmaid in the wedding of a former assistant that accused her of mistreatment for getting pregnant.

The latest?

Rutgers paid $70,000 to run a background check on Hermann.

Seriously.

$70,000.

That means one of two things: Either Rutgers spent an unnecessary amount of money on a worthless background check despite the fact that two days before Hermann was hired, the Newark Star-Ledger tried to tip them off about her issues at Tennessee; or they knew about Hermann’s past and thought that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to hire her despite the fact that reason her coaching career ended is the exact same reason that Rutgers is in this mess in the first place.

So, Rutgers, you’re either ignorant or incompetent.

It gets better.

Last night, ESPN.com ran with a report detailing emails that they had obtained from the 26-member search committee. (Yup, Rutgers had a 26-member search advisory committee decide to hire Hermann.) My favorite was this one, which came from the two co-chairs of that committee:

“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.”

Translation: Y’all had a chance to complain, but like us, you didn’t have a clue. If we go down, we’re bringing all of you with us.

What a disaster.

But I can’t stop watching.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. John F. BaRoss Jr. - May 30, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    And now Governor Chris Christie has weighed in, providing full support for Rutgers President Barchi and his decision to hire and keep Hermann … raising the reasonable questions: “So Rutgers, why were you so indignant with Rice’s conduct in the first place and why fire Rice and Pernetti, then defend hiring a replacement who is guilty of fundamentally the same conduct (after the fiasco of not realizing you offered to hire a guy without verifying that he lied on his resume about being a Rutgers grad)?” Don’t bother trying to answer and thanks for adding more fuel to fire of making Rutgers and NJ a national laughing stock and farce. Perception is reality and clearly the incompetence is broad and deep.

    • tubal22 - May 30, 2013 at 4:29 PM

      From what I understand, Barchi is instrumental in getting Rutgers to merge with the University of Medicine in NJ. Without Barchi, it may not happen. So of course the politicians want him to stay.

      • apmn - May 30, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        Wait, are you trying to say that universities do more than just athletics? Get outta here…

  2. chuckchillout - May 30, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    The greatest stories are the ones that are never told. In this case, it’s the story of the 26-member (!!!) search committee, and how they came to the atrocious decision to hire this woman.

    Also, Dauster isn’t telling the full story when he writes that Pernetti was fired “in large part because he allowed Rice to work for five months after he saw the video”. Pernetti has stated that he wanted Rice gone and his superiors overrode him, and that should definitely be mentioned in this article.

  3. mogogo1 - May 30, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    The Hermann hire is what happens when the stuffed shirts get fixated on a single candidate. They decided being the only school in the Big 10 with a woman AD was going to be a huge PR win for them. No way would a male candidate have survived any of the dirt that existed on Hermann, but Barchi and his buddies had decided she was their gal, so they didn’t want to hear anything negative about her.

    The Eddie Jordan non-existent degree is the goof I have a much harder time understanding. Nobody checked to see if he’d actually graduated? That one just blew me away.

  4. rockingrhino - May 30, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    The real joke is that Rutgers, a Big 10 school *cough*, will be recruiting at a D2 school level because no big time kid out of high school is going to want to come to this train wreak.

    In this era of big time college sports, image is more important than substance and Rutgers image is a big joke.

  5. skids003 - May 31, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    How in hell do you spend $70,000 for a background check?

  6. dafc0n - May 31, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    How dare any of you question the decision makers at Rutgers, don’t you know that they all have post secondary degrees? This entitles them to behave as deity, and be infallible in all their decision making! NOT!

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