First impressions, second thoughts and the third degree:
If the Big Ten Conference is going to continue to stand by its plan to bring Rutgers into the fold next year, then its members must be gluttons for ridicule.
In the aftermath of scandals at two of its signature institutions — Penn State and Ohio State — Big Ten administrators, coaches and alums are watching Rutgers answer to another round of forehead-slapping ineptitude.
The school hired Julie Hermann to be its athletic director May 15 only to find out through a report in the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger over the weekend that her closet apparently contains an immense skeleton.
During her six-season stint as volleyball coach at Tennessee in the mid-1990s, Hermann was accused by her players of calling them “whores” and “alcoholics” and “learning disabled.” All 15 members of the 1996 team signed a letter outlining Hermann’s vindictive, abusive approach and submitted it to the athletic director. Hermann later resigned after a team meeting she now can’t recall.
Hermann also was the focus of a 1997 lawsuit in which a former Volunteers assistant coach received a $150,000 settlement. The assistant claimed she was fired by Hermann because she became pregnant.
According to the newspaper, school officials didn’t question Hermann about the lawsuit during her interview and were unaware of the damning letter until it surfaced following her hiring.
The intense irony here is that Hermann got the Rutgers job — and appears in line to keep it — mainly because her predecessor was forced out for his poor handling of former men’s basketball coach Mike Rice, whose over-the-top physical and verbal abuse of players was captured on video and aired on ESPN. Former AD Tim Pernetti stepped down in early April because he initially fined and suspended Rice for three games after seeing the video.
Rutgers subsequently hired alum Eddie Jordan as men’s basketball coach only to learn that, contrary to his official school bio, he didn’t have a college degree.
A sadly comical footnote to all this is that Hermann’s name reportedly wasn’t on a list of candidates submitted by the head-hunting firm that was retained by the school. In other words, Rutgers paid for insight it chose to ignore.
All this happened on the watch of Rutgers president Robert Barchi, who never saw the video of Rice kicking, grabbing and throwing basketballs at his players until it was too late and who vowed to find an athletic director who fit his vision.
When the Rice scandal came to light, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said it would have “no impact’’ on the school joining the league along with Maryland in 2014.
Except that it did then and it does now. Everyone in the Big Ten has little choice but to share in Rutgers’ shame.
WHEN A VOW ISN’T A PROMISE: When the University of Wisconsin football team hosts Western Illinois in 2014, it will be the last time a Football Championship Subdivision opponent shows up on the schedule, right?
“Yeah,” UW athletic director Barry Alvarez said recently, referencing a Big Ten policy calling for no more FCS opponents.
But wait. Alvarez quickly noted that the inventory of Football Bowl Subdivision non-conference opponents will shrink and the price of guarantees will go up.
“I think we should have a little leeway if you absolutely can’t fill your schedule with (FBS) opponents,” he said. “You’ve got to have a little understanding that, ‘Hey, we’re trying (and) we’ve done everything we can, (but) we’ve got to go buy a game (vs. an FCS opponent).’ ”
THREE-STROKE PENALTY: Just when it looked like the Tiger Woods-Sergio Garcia feud might make golf interesting, Garcia went out and carded a permanent triple bogey. He got cocky, said something stupid and racist, and forever relinquished the upper hand.