Christie wants details on Rutgers AD
NEWARK, N.J. (AP)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans to speak with Rutgers officials about a report that the woman hired to clean up the university's scandal-scarred athletic program quit as Tennessee's women's volleyball coach 16 years ago after her players submitted a letter complaining she ruled through humiliation, fear and emotional abuse.
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak says the governor is aware of the report about Julie Hermann in the Star-Ledger of Newark, but wants to get more details before commenting.
''He's not going to make any judgments at this time,'' Drewniak said in an email to The Associated Press on Sunday
The Star-Ledger reported that Tennessee players wrote that the mentality cruelty they suffered when Hermann was coach was unbearable, adding she called them ''whores, alcoholics and learning disabled.''
Hermann was hired on May15 to replace the ousted Tim Pernetti, who was let go after basketball coach Mike Rice was fired for abusive behavior.
The 49-year-old Hermann is on June 17 set to become the first woman to run the Scarlet Knights' athletic program and one of three female ADs at the 124 schools playing at college football's top tier.
However, it's uncertain whether the report will force Rutgers to re-consider the appointment. It also could give impetus to those who want new university president Robert Barchi to step down after yet another black eye for the state's largest university.
The university had not issued a comment by 3 p.m. Sunday.
Hermann was not immediately available for comment, but she told the Star-Ledger that she did not recall the Tennessee letter. The newspaper said when it was read to her by phone, she replied, ''Wow.''
Rutgers board members Candace Straight and Joseph J. Roberts Jr. did not return telephone calls by the AP seeking comment.
''The questionable decision-making at this program so heavily funded by taxpayers continues to astound me,'' Assembly speaker Sheila Oliver said in an email to the AP.
Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich, who was Hermann's boss for almost the last 16 years, was surprised by the report.
''For me to say this is a shock, it totally is because of the tremendous job she did for me,'' Jurich said Sunday in a telephone interview. ''When she was with me at Northern Arizona, her players adored and loved her. I never heard anything about this at all from the Tennessee players and a lot of them have come through Louisville a number of times. Everybody is always singing her praises.''
The Star-Ledger report said that wasn't the case late in her coaching career at Tennessee.
In the letter submitted by all 15 team members in 1996, the volleyball players said Hermann called them ''whores, alcoholics and learning disabled'' and they wrote: ''It has been unanimously decided that this is an irreconcilable issue.'' The players told The Star-Ledger that Hermann absorbed the words and said: ''I choose not to coach you guys.''