Julie Hermann, Rutgers' recently hired athletic director, was at the center of a sex discrimination lawsuit in addition to an abusive coaching scandal, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. Hermann was hired on May 15 and is scheduled to officially start on June 17, but various reports about a rocky past have led to intense scrutiny.
According to the New York Times report, Hermann was involved in a sex discrimination lawsuit in 2008 at Louisville, where she served as a senior athletics administrator. Mary Banker, an assistant track and field coach, voiced concerns to Hermann about sexist behavior and "discriminatory treatment" by the head coach. Banker also took her concerns to the Human Resources department, and within three weeks, she was fired. The lawsuit holds Hermann responsible for the decision to fire Banker.
Earlier on Saturday, the Newark Star-Ledger reported that Hermann quit her job as the women's volleyball coach at Tennessee 16 years ago after her players accused her of calling them "whores, alcoholics and learning disabled." Hermann denied the allegations, and Rutgers president Robert Barchi stood by her, according to an ESPN New York report:
"It's absolutely not true that I referred to them with any name calling like that," Hermann said Monday. "That's not part of my vocabulary.
"Am I an intense coach? Absolutely as many coaches are. There's a big canyon between being super intense and abuse. This was not an abusive environment. Was it challenging? Yes. It was incredibly challenging. Was I aware players were unhappy? I was unaware by the end of the season. We had so many challenges with this group of women."
Barchi issued a vote of confidence and told Hermann her job was safe. From the ESPN New York report:
"We remain confident that we have selected an individual who will work in the best interests of all of our student athletes, our athletics teams, and the university," Barchi said.
"It's been communicated to me (by Barchi) that I'm the athletic director and will lead Rutgers into the Big Ten," Hermann said.