Rutgers athletic director gets Nebraska homecoming

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann is heading home, at least briefly.

For the first time since becoming an NCAA committee member, Hermann is going back to her home state of Nebraska. The trip coincides with the Scarlet Knights' football game against the No. 16 Cornhuskers on Saturday.

Born and raised in Nebraska City, about 45 minutes from Lincoln, Hermann played volleyball for the Cornhuskers. She was an All-Big Eight player, helping lead them to four conference championships, four NCAA tournament appearances and a pair of top five finishes.

Those experiences are what led her to athletic administration.

''What a privilege it was to be a part of a program as it was becoming,'' Hermann told reporters on Tuesday.

Hermann said the team went from unranked to ranked while she was there in the early 80s, then played for its first national title in 1986.

''Being a part of that program at that time is really where my love of building programs came from,'' she said. ''I didn't think I'd be a coach and I certainly didn't think I'd be an athletic director, but the opportunity to work toward giving opportunities to young people - it was a great thing for me to get to do and such and honor to get to do and the opportunity to do that for other young people - that's what gets me up every day.''

As for returning home, Hermann is excited, but admits she won't have too much time to spend with family.

When she arrives via the team charter on Friday night, it will be off to a dinner with Rutgers supporters. And with kickoff at 11:00 a.m. CDT, she'll be at the stadium around 7:30 a.m. and leaving on the team charter after the game.

However, she will finally get to take in a game at Memorial Stadium.

''I think it may be a little bit surreal when I'm there on site to be in the Nebraska stadium,'' she said. ''Keeping in mind that I probably saw in my four or five years at Nebraska probably half a football game because when you're a volleyball player, you're competing. So I'm looking forward to seeing a full Nebraska football game and the fact that it's my football team makes it even more fun.''

Her tickets are in high demand. Her mother still lives in Nebraska, as does her brother and nieces as nephews, all of whom made requests.

Hermann obliged, and now 20 family members will be in attendance. However, since they'll be sitting in Rutgers' section, the tickets came with a stipulation.

''They asked for tickets and I said absolutely not. And they said, `Aren't you the athletic director' and I said `Yeah, but I know you'll come, you'll cheer for Nebraska in the Rutgers section. That's not going to happen.'

''So they have vowed that they are cheering mad wild for Rutgers, so if you see anyone in our section misbehaving, it's probably a Hermann,'' she said.

Kidding aside, Hermann knows the importance of Nebraska football - and its entire athletic department - to the state.

''I don't like saying it this way, but it's our entertainment industry for that state and it's their pro (team),'' she said.

Hermann hopes Rutgers becomes that popular in a region noted more for its support of the Jets, Giants and other pro teams.

''Rutgers - we are the state school and we understand that mantle and we want to wear it and we want to rise and we want to represent and make our state proud,'' Hermann said. ''So we're going to take the time to build all 24 of our programs right and hopefully rally our whole state.''

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.