University appoints Hermann as athletic director
The University named a new athletic director today in former Louisville Senior Associate Athletic Director Julie Hermann.
Hermann, who worked second to Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich, will receive a $450,000 annual base salary. She can also receive $50,000 in annual bonus incentives based on achievement of academic and athletic performance as determined by President Robert L. Barchi.
Hermann’s duties include not only overseeing improvements, but also moving on from negatives. That includes creating an atmosphere where nothing similar to the Mike Rice incident can happen again.
“There’s nobody on our head coaching staff that doesn’t believe we need to be an open book,” Hermann said today at her introductory press conference. “We will no longer have any practice anywhere at any time that anybody couldn’t walk into and be pleased about what’s going on in our environment.”
Hermann and Barchi both emphasized transparency as vital to an athletic program.
Barchi said the staples for Rutgers athletics going forward are “absolute integrity and transparency.” Hermann said Jurich, who she said may be the best athletic director in college sports, created an atmosphere where everyone could be “honest and transparent.”
Transparency was a problem in the way the Rice issue was handled. The public did not know of the issue’s severity when former athletic director Tim Pernetti gave Rice his original punishment of a three-game suspension, fining $50,000, and requiring anger management courses and a monitor at practice.
She also wants to continue the vision of competing in Big Ten football, despite Barchi previously stating Rutgers could never spend as much as Michigan or Ohio State on the sport.
“We will invest time, talent and treasure in [Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood],” Hermann said. “We do not need to spend what Michigan spends. I don’t know how they spend all that money. We will do more with less.”
Louisville has the pedigree to back up her aspirations. The Cardinals made four total bowls before Jurich’s hiring in 1997. They have made 12 ever since, including winning two BCS bowls since 2006.
The Louisville men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball teams also set a high standard for winning. But one of Hermann’s main criticisms is that despite overseeing 20 of Louisville’s 23 teams, she did not oversee the football, men’s basketball and baseball teams.
Richard Edwards, Rutgers’ executive vice president of academics, said he did not see that as a problem.
Edwards was co-chair of the selection committee with Kate Sweeney, a senior vice president with Morgan Stanley in New Brunswick.
“The athletic director will typically have football and [men’s] basketball, sometimes also women’s basketball, as direct reports,” Edwards said of the position’s preconceived notions. “But they are not directly involved in the day-to-day running of those programs. They don’t have time to be.”
Hermann also defended herself against alleged involvement in a 1997 pregnancy discrimination lawsuit against the University of Tennessee, when she was the school’s head volleyball coach.
Then-assistant volleyball coach Ginger Hineline told the Knoxville News-Sentinel, “Julie and I had various conversations that discouraged me from getting pregnant.” Hermann allegedly told Hineline her job might depend on it.
Hineline won the $150,000 lawsuit against the school. But Hermann said yesterday she was not familiar with these allegations of what she said and did not remember having that conversation.
In the near future, it is Hermann’s goal to renovate the Louis Brown Athletic Center. Pernetti also envisioned this, but Hermann brings a unique background to the task.
She was by no means a bystander while Louisville created and upgraded several facilities, including the KFC Yum! Center, a $238 million basketball arena that opened in 2010.
“I’ve been on every part from the fundraising hand to the actual designing of the buildings,” Hermann said. “I have a secret love of architecture, so I’ve literally on graph paper designed buildings and told people to engineer it. I’d come back and that’s the building we built.”
But the renovation budget is just one of several financial concerns in the athletic program Hermann must account for.
Among those are coaches’ salaries. Head men’s basketball coach Eddie Jordan recently succeeded head women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringers as New Jersey’s highest-paid state employee. But Stringers’ contract with one year and more than $1 million remaining leaves Hermann in an interesting situation Pernetti was already dealing with.
“It’s my job to partner with every coach we have to figure out how to best facilitate their success, and that is 99 percent of what a good athletic director does,” Hermann said. “When you get to a point where it’s not working, then that conversation [of possible consequences] will take place with that coach.”
Barchi said Hermann was instrumental in Louisville’s switch from Conference USA to the Big East in 2005 and its eventual move to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014.
She also shares Barchi’s vision for academic success for student-athletes, which is probably the easiest aspect to transition from Louisville’s program.
“Perhaps her crowning achievement at Louisville is the comprehensive health care program,” Barchi said, “which integrates all the elements that are critical to the student-athlete experience — sports medicine, sports performance, leadership training, academic support and tutoring and career counseling.”