Hermann’s remarks back to haunt her
AD must improve both public and private image for U. progress
Rutgers issued a formal public apology last week for the actions of some classless Rutgers fans at the football game against Penn State. The fans wore offensive “Beat Ped State” shirts and had tasteless signs and flags that referenced the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal at Penn State, directly insulting the entire university by implying they were associated with him and the scandal. Athletic Director Julie Hermann and University President Robert L. Barchi were quick to address the issue and apologize to both Penn State and the Rutgers community.
But just after Hermann apologized for the Rutgers fans’ tasteless jokes, more than half a dozen people from inside the Rutgers Athletic Department came out with statements about Hermann’s own joke about Sandusky at a staff meeting last fall. According to a report, she told staff to “reach out and touch the donors … but not in a Sandusky way.”
Of course, there is a distinction between Hermann’s jab at Sandusky and the Rutgers fans that insulted Penn State as a whole. But either way, Hermann — who makes more than $450,000 a year representing our University’s entire Athletic Department — should be held to a much higher standard than a bunch of rowdy college football fans anyway. She should be holding herself to this standard, and we’re disappointed she clearly does not.
According to Pete McDonough, senior vice president for external affairs, the University will not let one off-the-cuff remark take away from the “great job” Hermann has been doing since she replaced Tim Pernetti in 2013. We understand it’s going to take a while for us to really see what improvements Hermann’s been working on for the Athletic Department, but her unfortunate track record of PR disasters and her tendency to say and do things that embarrass our entire University — such as her incompetent handling of incidences of bullying within the football team and her unprofessional comments about The Star-Ledger — leave us wondering if this is all really worth it.
It’s one thing to make public statements and apologies to maintain an outer image, but now that Hermann’s own staff has come out to the media about her remarks from last year instead of dealing with it internally, we really have to wonder what kind of relationship there is between Hermann and the rest of the department. This seems like it was just an inappropriate comment that could have just been dealt with through the Human Resources Department (after all, that’s what it’s there for), but instead, these people chose to bring Hermann and our entire University into the spotlight again. We wish they hadn’t — we’ve already had enough to deal with when it comes to bad press — but this probably isn’t the first time Hermann has said things she shouldn’t have behind closed doors.
We really hope Rutgers develops a reputation for itself, but with Hermann constantly slipping up, we feel like the setbacks are going to start holding us back. It feels like we’re hearing more about Rutgers’ screw-ups than about the accomplishments and progress we’ve been making. University officials are paid more than enough to know not to run their mouths, and we really hope Hermann has gotten the message.