The search process that led to the hiring of Julie Hermann as
Rutgers University's new athletic director was rushed and flawed,
according to emails written by two members of the selection
committee in the days since fresh questions arose about troubling
episodes in Hermann's past.
The emails, which ESPN posted on its website on Wednesday, appeared to undermine the official pronouncement from Rutgers officials that the process had been thorough. One of the committee's 26 members accused the panel's leaders of trying to "rewrite the facts" by suggesting that there had been ample time to review Hermann's credentials and record.
That message, from Ken Schmidt, was sent in response to a memo that Richard Edwards and Kate Sweeney, who led the panel, sent after reports surfaced that Hermann had been accused of verbally abusing and humiliating volleyball players at the University of Tennessee when she was a coach there in the 1990s.
"As members of the Search Advisory Team," Sweeney and Edwards wrote, "you all had the opportunity to examine Julie's credentials, to spend some time with her when she was on campus, and to provide us with your thoughts regarding her candidacy as Rutgers' next Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. As you know, there was strong support for Julie, and for what she could bring to Rutgers."
But Schmidt and another member, Ronald Garutti, replied separately to everyone in the group, taking strong exception to the account given by Sweeney and Edwards.
"Dick and Kate, The members of the Search Committee that were not on the Executive Search Committee spent very little time with the final two candidates," Schmidt wrote. "There was very little information about the candidates disseminated to the larger Committee. Most of the information we received was what was leaked to the media. At this time, please do not try and rewrite the facts. I suspect you will find others that share my opinion."
In a longer email, Garutti said the committee had been given little time to vet Hermann and one other finalist for the job. He said he received background information about the candidates at 9:30 p.m. on a Sunday, less than 12 hours before interviews that were scheduled for the following morning.
"Please, let us not at this late date attempt to convince ourselves and the public that there was sufficient time to delve deeply into either candidate's documents."
Rutgers declined to comment Wednesday on the emails or any other aspect of Hermann's hiring as more questions surfaced about the vetting process and amid calls for Hermann and Rutgers' president, Robert L. Barchi, to step down.
Hermann has denied that she abused her volleyball players at the University of Tennessee and has said she does not remember a 1997 meeting in which 15 players presented her with a letter detailing the allegations. She also has said she does not remember serving as a bridesmaid and catching the bridal bouquet at the 1994 wedding of an assistant coach who was later awarded a $150,000 judgment in a discrimination lawsuit. The assistant accused Hermann of firing her because she became pregnant.
The charges of player abuse particularly rankle at Rutgers. Hermann's predecessor was ousted for failing to immediately fire Mike Rice, the university's men's basketball coach, after video
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