New Rutgers athletic director facing abuse, "cruelty" allegations

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by CBS News

CBS News

Posted on May 27, 2013 at 8:39 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 2 at 1:42 PM

(CBS News) One month after Rutgers University fired former men's basketball coach Mike Rice when evidence of physical and verbal abuse of his players surfaced, the university introduced Julie Hermann as its new athletic director. Hermann is expected to start at Rutgers on June 17, but the former women's volleyball coach is facing abuse allegations of her own.

Allegations of past verbal abuse have surfaced -- mainly personal accounts from Hermann's former players and employees -- and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has said he plans to address the issue with Rutgers University president Robert Barchi.

Shortly after she was selected to replace Rice and restore trust within the university's athletic community, Hermann publicly vowed, "We will no longer have any practice anywhere, anytime, that anyone couldn't ... be pleased about what's going on in that environment."

Kim Obiala, a former University of Tennessee volleyball player, told CBS News' Michelle Miller that Hermann may not be the right person to restore dignity to Rutgers' athletic program. "It got personal [and] it wasn't about the game. It was about attacking our character," Obiala said of Hermann's coaching style. 

Other former players coached by Hermann echoed Obiala's words of warning in a 1997 letter submitted by every team member to then-Tennessee Athletic Director Joan Cronan. The letter reads, "The mental cruelty that we as a team have suffered is unbearable." The teammates alleged they were called "whores, alcoholics, and learning disabled" and said "We have all come to hate the game we love" as a result of Hermann's tactics.

Former Tennessee player Kelly Dow signed the letter and told Michelle Miller, "To give that much physically and emotionally and to just have it stomped on repeatedly ... it's just, everyone has a breaking point."

Hermann was the subject of another scandal during her time at Tennessee -- she was sued by Assistant Coach Ginger Hineline, who claimed Hermann fired her for getting pregnant. 

In a video made at Hineline's wedding, several months before she was fired, Hermann joked "I hope it's good tonight ... but I hope it's not too good because we don't want you to come back in February with any surprises you know, in the office and all. It would be hard to have a baby in there."

Hermann left Tennessee University shortly after the controversy surrounding Hineline's termination and went on to become the Assistant Athletic Director at Louisville, where she has worked until she was hired by Rutgers.

Hermann did not respond to a request for comment from CBS News, but recently told the New Jersey Star Ledger, "I never heard any of this. Never name-calling them or anything like that, whatsoever."

Officials at Rutgers University also declined to comment but released a statement last week, which read in part, "We have looked at the totality of Julie's record in athletics administration and we look forward to her continued success as she leads Rutgers' transition into the Big Ten."

 

 

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