Julie Hermann - Why Was She Rutgers' Choice?

  on May 30 2013 12:28 AM

Cut through the BS and political pretzel-logic rationalizing on both sides, those pro-Julie and those con, one question remains: Why, exactly, was Miss Hermann chosen to be Rutgers University athletic director anyway?

With a firestorm of controversy ablaze on the banks of the Raritan River in Central Jersey and beyond, courtesy of yet another administrative misstep as those representing the Scarlet Knights seem prone to make, the aformentioned, more than ever, begs to be asked.

Why? Why her? What was it that made her stand out above the rest? How did she go from non-candidate after the search firm hired by the school deemed her unworthy of being one of its 47 suggested candidates to the one who rose to contender, semifinalist and then, ultimately, the individual named to lead RU on its monumental transition into the Big Ten conference?

Did she interview great?

Did she come across more intelligent, showing greater knowledge of RU and the hurdles it faces?

Did she dress sharper?

Perhaps her Cardinal red attire from serving in an administrative capacity at the University of Louisville the better part of the past 16 years would work just fine at Scarlet events.

Thing is, every individual who made the list of candidates that RU officials considered, and even those who didn’t, bring credentials – ranging from worthwhile to impressive. They’ve all put in time and paid their dues in the business. They’ve made connections and they’ve made contributions.

Hermann is hardly lacking in the “qualified” department. At Louisville, she was the driving force behind its marketing and brand management and, like her forced-out predecessor at RU, Tim Pernetti, proved to be a first-rate performer as a fundraiser.

But her hire had nothing to do with that. Her hire had everything to do with RU search committee co-chair Kate Sweeney championing her cause, the fact she is a woman and the reality that RU needed to make a big, positive splash in an overtly PC-conscious society.

It read like a feel-good, rags-to-riches novel with smiles certain to abound from every corner. An institution of higher learning burned and embarrassed by its own mismanagement of the athletic department goes beyond the norm to make a statement: Not only would it make the entire operation beyond reproach, but it would do so with a female at the helm.

It would be one of the forerunners for progress. Forget respectability, it was going to leapfrog laughingstock status to legendary acclaim. After all, only two other major schools in the country had the foresight and gumption to look beyond gender and go forward with the best leader.

Between slaps on the back and mugging for the camera to congratulate themselves, school president Robert Barchi and others linked to the hire failed to do one thing. They neglected to grasp that saying they had a good story doesn’t necessarily guarantee everyone will buy it. Or like it.

With information of two lawsuits featuring Hermann in a negative light recently emerging, not to mention an entire team signing off on her Mike Rice-like interpersonal, um, skills during her stint as University of Tennessee volleyball coach, Hermann’s character has been called into question, as has the hiring process RU took to choose her. There is plenty of blame to go around.

The irony is, as Hermann, Barchi and the rest who hope to keep her at RU run around, making sure spin control is in high gear, they’ve missed the ultimate opportunity to show why Hermann really was the best candidate for the job.

She is just like RU – flawed, with a past that isn’t all perfect and shiny. She’s had some “downs” and has moved beyond them, positioning herself to run the athletic department of a BCS school.

If anyone should be in tune with what RU faces and needs to do in order to get things ship-shape it is her – had she learned from her mistakes.

Apparently, she hasn’t.

Neither has RU.

Both entities are more concerned with covering their cans than stepping up and being accountable.

Which, at RU, is all too familiar.