U. attitude on abuse must change
Student perceptions of Hermann and Pernetti eye-opening
Something really interesting happened at last Saturday’s Rutgers football game that definitely caught our attention.
Football star, hometown hero and national inspiration Eric LeGrand, who became paralyzed from the neck down during a game in 2010, was celebrated during the halftime ceremony at the game against Eastern Michigan. He became the first football player in Rutgers history to have his number retired. His eloquent speech made headlines across the country.
But for those of us at home, the video montage that was featured during the ceremony really stood out, especially for those in the audience. During the video, featuring different personal addresses to LeGrand, new Athletic Director Julie Hermann sent him a message. As soon as she came on the screen, she was met with loud boos from the audience.
But then, when former Athletic Director Tim Pernetti made an appearance, the crowd went wild. He received more applause than any of his other counterparts. It really got us thinking about the University students’ attitudes toward the scandal that rocked our campus last semester.
Pernetti resigned amid growing national pressure and media attention surrounding Mike Rice’s abuse of the men’s basketball team. Pernetti had been aware of abuse taking place, but Rice was not removed from his position until a video surfaced of his treatment of players during practice. While the general public’s attitude seemed in favor of Pernetti’s removal, groups of students — whose opinions were not considered during the decision — rallied together to protest his resignation.
It’s extremely disappointing, then, that Hermann’s appointment was quickly followed by troubling revelations of her own. During her time as head coach of the volleyball team at the University of Tennessee, it is alleged that Hermann abused her players by denying meals and showers after losses and verbally berating them. The fact that these allegations came to light after such a highly publicized incident reflects how truly reckless the search committees are when hiring new faculty members.
And, if Pernetti is being held accountable for seemingly condoning an abusive situation, shouldn’t Hermann be held to at least the same standard for being accused of abuse herself?
It is no wonder, then, that Pernetti got a much warmer reception from the bleachers than his successor. It is, however, important that we as a university reject abuse in all its forms. When it comes to players being psychologically, and sometimes physically victimized, then sports can no longer be placed on a pedestal, no matter our love for it.
The fact that Pernetti was featured in the video at all is enough to reveal not only the inner conflict that exists among the students, but also within the faculty itself, in making the decision to include him.
Eric LeGrand deserves the recognition he has received from both Pernetti and Hermann, but what he deserves even more is the very pinnacle of all he represents — genuine care and attention for our athletes, their performance and, most of all, their health.
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