Hermann looks to move past abuse allegations
New Athletic Director Julie Hermann held her first press conference this afternoon on the New Brunswick campus after allegations surfaced of her abuse as a former volleyball coach at the University of Tennessee.
In her opening statement at 4 p.m. outside the Hale Center on Busch campus, Hermann did not further address the allegations and has no plans on resigning. She instead pointed towards the future and excitement in beginning her tenure June 17.
Hermann said she met with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and University President Robert L. Barchi this morning and discussed on-campus initiatives.
Delany also confirmed yesterday the University’s 2014 bid into the conference as safe.
“The Big Ten’s hope and intent is that we partner up with Maryland and Penn State to really bring all things Big Ten into the New Jersey/New York market,” Hermann said. “And so we’re very excited about the Pinstripe association, really excited about adding Johns Hopkins in men’s lacrosse. … [Delany’s] got a boatload of other things in the hopper that I look forward to announcing some day soon.”
Hermann also met with the University’s head coaching staff and senior staff, with whom she said she shares a passion to move past all the controversy.
“It’s time to get focused on kids and coaches,” she said. “I look forward to focusing on what support these coaches are going to need, what support the student athletes are going to need and how we start getting into the details of that so we ensure that Rutgers is as nationally competitive, as best in class as student experiences as we can create on this campus.”
Hermann made clear that moving forward is the athletic department’s singular goal.
While touching on the allegations briefly with Delany, she said she is anxious to get started on what the University hired her to accomplish.
“It’s been tough for everybody on campus. It’s been a bout of turmoil,” Hermann said. “But all of our dialogue is about moving through that and getting back to students, and getting back to ensuring as fast as we can that every student athlete who comes on our campus really has a best-in-class experience.”
When pressed further on her discrimination lawsuit and troubling time at Tennessee, which ended in 1997, Hermann insisted she is not a name-caller but said her trying experience shaped her into a strong administrator.
“I went through a difficult time with the team, and it was difficult for them and it was difficult for me. They were young and I was young,” she said. “And because of that experience the truth is I feel uniquely qualified to create a fantastic student care system because I know as a former coach how important that student care system is.”
Still, Hermann knows she has her work cut out for her.
Over the past couple of weeks, public outcry over the irony of her hiring in light of the Mike Rice scandal has led to uncertainty of how much financial support Hermann will receive from alumni when she officially becomes athletic director.
She called connecting with the University community a tough challenge, and one that has doubled since the most recent scandal.
“I think one-on-one meetings are going to be critically important for us so that people can meet me, know what I stand for, understand all of my experiences to the extent that they know who I am and what I stand for and what my 25 years in college athletics has been about,” Hermann said. “And communicate to them my values. Absolutely, my values, but most importantly in alignment with Rutgers University values.”
And in those 25 years, Hermann has climbed virtually every rung of an athletic department’s ladder, serving as a student athlete, assistant coach, head coach and now an administrator. It has molded for her a backbone that is not about to wilt.
Despite second thoughts on taking the job as athletic director creeping into her mind with everything that has transpired, Hermann asserted she remains genuine about the University.
“I was interested in this job because I believe that Rutgers is truly a special place that is so uniquely positioned to do something great,” she said. “Because of the length and breadth of my experience, I do feel qualified and I feel so passionate about making certain that student athletes have a great experience.”