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Rutgers AD Julie Hermann Was Reportedly at Center of Sex Discrimination Lawsuit

Ethan Grant@DowntownEGAnalyst IMay 28, 2013

New details are emerging surrounding new Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann, and they aren't ones that shine on university president Robert Barchi's decision to bring her on board to help diffuse tensions after Mike Rice was fired.

According to a Tuesday report from Steve Eder of the New York Times, Hermann was at the middle of a sex discrimination lawsuit back in 2008, when she was a senior athletics administrator at the University of Louisville. 

Here's an excerpt from Eder's report:

In that case, an assistant track and field coach said she went to Hermann to complain of what she considered sexist behavior and “discriminatory treatment” by the head coach. Within three weeks of her taking her concerns to Louisville’s human resources department, the assistant coach, Mary Banker, was fired.

Mary Banker filed her lawsuit following her termination in 2008, claiming not only that Hermann had discriminated against her based on her sex, but that she subsequently influenced the decision to let Banker go.

After winning over $300,000 in a wrongful termination suit on the basis of emotional damages and lost wages, Banker's case was overturned by the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Banker's lawyer, Brian Cassis, is reportedly now taking the case to the Kentucky Supreme Court. 

Per Eder's report, school spokesman Greg Trevor revealed that Rutgers had discussed the matter with the co-chairman of the search committee and the university council's office before making Hermann's hiring official. 

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Barchi released a statement on Monday in support of Hermann, saying she would not lose her job for the original accusations against her character just days after the school made the move official, according to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.    

You can find a copy of that statement here (via the school's official website). Here's an excerpt from the end of Rutgers' defense of Hermann and her hiring:

Rutgers was deliberative at every stage of this process. Over the course of the search, Julie's record established her as a proven leader in athletics administration with a strong commitment to academic success as well as athletic excellence, and a strong commitment to the well-being of student athletes. 

Since the announcement of her selection, some media reports have focused on complaints about aspects of her early career. Looking at Julie’s entire record of accomplishment, which is stellar, we remain confident that we have selected an individual who will work in the best interests of all of our student athletes, our athletics teams and the university. 

Rutgers has already been defending its hiring of Hermann after accusations came to light implicating her misconduct during a coaching job at Tennessee she held in the 1990s.

Critics have been calling for both Hermann's and Barchi's dismissal in recent weeks, including Forbes contributor Patrick Rishe and Steve Politi of the New Jersey Star-Ledger

As noted by USA Today's Dan Wolken, the backlash from Eder's piece is also likely to raise a red flag for those investigating the situations at Louisville, too:

Dan Wolken @DanWolken

The Julie Hermann fiasco has now reached the point where it's staining Louisville, too.

And as ESPN's Dana O'Neil points out, regardless of the outcome of these separate allegations, Rutgers' brass isn't coming out of any of these proceedings looking like a top-tier institutional hierarchy:

Per numerous reports, Hermann has been accused of using the same methods of treatment that put former men's basketball coach Mike Rice in hot water and subsequently led to his and former AD Tim Pernetti's dual firings. 

(Note: Language in next paragraph is NSFW.)

Among the quotes reportedly (per Politi) belonging to Hermann during her time as a volleyball coach at Tennessee include her calling the girls on the team "whores, alcoholics and learning disabled."

According to News 12 Hudson Valley, Hermann echoed Barchi's support of her hiring on Monday by saying she will not resign from her new post at Rutgers in the wake of these allegations. 

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