Historic First: Rutgers Hires Woman as Athletic Director

How much more must the university do to rehab its image following the Mike Rice scandal?

By Dara Sharif

Rutgers University has named Julie Hermann its new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, continuing its move away from the abuse scandal that roiled the campus earlier this year.

Hermann, who spent 15 years at Louisville, most recently as Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director, would be the only female athletic director in the Big Ten when Rutgers joins the conference in the fall of 2014. She'll be only the third woman in the country to head a Division I, Football Bowl Subdivision athletic department when she starts her new position on June 17.

"I recognize what a truly extraordinary privilege it is to become director of athletics at Rutgers University," Hermann said during a press conference at Rutgers last week.

In announcing its selection of Hermann, the university cited her experience with universities changing sports conferences, as Rutgers will do next year.

"She is one of the most respected athletics administrators in the country and she was deeply involved in moving Louisville from Conference USA to the Big East and from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference," Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi said. "Her 15 years of leadership experience will be an invaluable asset to the university as we prepare to enter the Big Ten."

One of Hermann's new peers praised Rutgers's choice.

"It is always gratifying to see a qualified minority have the chance to lead," North Carolina State Athletic Director Debbie Yow told the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger. "Julie will do an admirable job as Rutgers' AD, and they were smart to hire her."

Hermann's selection came after a six-week search to replace Tim Pernetti. Rutgers came under fire after video showed former Men's Basketball Coach Mike Rice using antigay slurs and physically abusing players during practice. The video was given to school officials in November, but Pernetti and Rutgers did not fire Rice until April after the video went viral. Pernetti himself then resigned a day later.

The decision to fire Rice was too little, too late for many. Critics, including DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti, a member of the Rutgers Board of Trustees and of the Rutgers Board of Governors Standing Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics, said Rutgers should have fired Rice on the spot in November.

Since then, Rutgers has continued to try to distance itself from the scandal. Last month, Rutgers appointed Eddie Jordan, a longtime NBA coach, most recently as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers, to replace Rice. Jordan would be the only Black Men's Basketball Coach in the Big Ten once the school joins the conference.

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