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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Rutgers' Problems Continue: Mike Rice's Behavior, Eddie Jordan's Resume and Now Julie Hermann's Alleged Behavior Years Ago

You can read about the Scarlet Knights' latest problem here.

Here are a few underlying premises to think about:

1.  Could it be that New Jersey just tolerates less out of its athletic officials than any other state (even if it seems to tolerate a lot from elected officials from both sides of the aisle)?

2.  Could it be that bad things come in threes, or in this case, fours, as, in addition to the items I outlined, Rutgers suspended its men's lacrosse coach this season for behavior that is too aggressive?

3.  Could it be that as former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said a few years ago, we've become a "Nation of Wusses?"

4.  Could it be that we're witnessing a major paradigm shift in the tolerated behaviors of major college coaches?  And, if that's the case, is it because we're becoming a friendlier people, less competitive people or because the immediacy of media reporting gives us information that we suspected years ago but now we can prove instantaneously?

5.  Could it be that Rutgers is just an idiosyncratic place to work?  Or could it be that Rutgers is a thought leader in this area?

6.  And how many coaches who coached 25 years ago would survive the scrutiny today?  Perhaps Dean Smith and John Wooden, but Bob Knight might not have made it out of his first coaching job at the United States Military Academy.

The question here is whether someone concocted a story about new Rutgers' Athletic Director Julie Hermann or not.  Hermann says she does not recall the letter that her Tennessee volleyball team send to the Vol's then-athletic director.  If so, why?  Because it wasn't sent?  Seems unlikely.  Because it wasn't shown to her?  Interesting possibility.  Because her media advisors are telling her that if she ignores it there's bound to be another story out there that puts Rutgers in a bad light that will distract the media, they'll forget about it, it will become stale information and, therefore, the Rutgers administration will get a pass because of the passage of time.  Another question:  who is doing the background checking for Rutgers, did they find this incident and, if so, what did the Rutgers' administration think about this portion of Hermann's background?  That it happened so long ago that it was no longer relevant because Hermann had changed and had a good resume thereafter, or that it was not a big deal, period or that it was not a big deal because, if true, it happened at a time in college sports where "rough" talk from coaches was part of the norm?

All that said, one would think that Rutgers would have looked extra carefully for pristine candidates.  Mike Rice is not a bad guy; he did bad things, so they would want a coach who is both a good guy and who has no track record of bad things.  Perhaps they found that it Eddie Jordan, but then they overlooked whether in fact he's a college graduate.  Notre Dame quickly parted company with George O'Leary after his resume turned out to have benefitted from some creative writing.  Is Rutgers now saying that they don't hold themselves to Notre Dame's standards?  Or that the being a good guy matters more than resume integrity?  Or that, heck, the administration has battle fatigue and will forgive Jordan for that transgression?  Well, if they did that, then where is the line for Rutgers?  If they fired Mike Rice for his conduct with respect to his players (conduct that came to light when a whistleblower allegedly tried to extort money from the university in exchange for keeping the whole affair quiet), then what will they do with what The Newark Star Ledger reports about Julie Hermann?  And whither their former Athletic Director, whose transgression wasn't that he ignored Rice's conduct, only that he didn't punish it hard enough?

Rutgers has a mess on its hands right now.  If what's said about Hermann is true, then how will they react?  And what standards will they be driving?  By firing Rice and their athletic director, they sent a message that coaches have to be civil and above reproach.  Then they hired a basketball coach who erred in reporting whether he graduated from the school and an athletic director who, well, has some questions to answer.  If it turns out the allegations against Julie Hermann were a hoax or lies, fine, but if not, well, Rutgers will continue to have a mess on its hands.


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