Rutgers University athletic director Julie Hermann will remain in her new position, despite a challenging start to her tenure, the school said Monday.
"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," the school said in a statement.
Rutgers hired Hermann from Louisville on May 15 to restore respectability to a program damaged by the abusive coaching tactics of former men's basketball coach Mike Rice, who was fired after footage was released of him hurling basketballs at his players and shouting homophobic slurs at them. The backlash also led to the resignation of athletic director Tim Pernetti.
But Hermann was accused of verbally abusing and taunting her former volleyball players while at the University of Tennessee, forcing Rutgers to defend their selection of her as athletic director.
Hermann was also at the center of a 2008 sex discrimination lawsuit at Louisville University, while she was a senior athletics administrator, according to a New York Times report. In that case, a former assistant track and field coach said she went to Hermann to complain about sexist behavior and "discriminatory treatment" by the head coach, but was fired within three weeks going to the school's human resources department.
In a court filing, the lawyer for Mary Banker wrote that after Banker's complaint to human resources, "Hermann called Banker into her office and told her, 'You should not have gone to HR.'
The lawsuit also claimed that Hermann told Banker: "I don't know how I'm going to restore trust in you amongst staff now," and "I don't know how you're going to work downstairs after this."
Hermann didn't respond to a New York Times request, but Rutgers spokesman Greg Trevor said she had discussed the lawsuit with Richard Edwards, the co-chairman of the search committee, as well as the university counsel's office, before being hired.
On Monday, she defended her coaching methods as volleyball coach to the Star-Ledger, and denied calling her players "whores," as alleged in a 1997 letter written by her players.
"I don't know what their motivation is 17 years later," she told reporters Monday. "Am I an intense coach? I'm absolutely an intense coach as many coaches are. But there is a big canyon between being super-intense and abuse. And this was not an abusive environment for these women."
Abbey Watkins, who played for Hermann in 1995-96, confirmed some of the charges to ESPN in an email.
"I write this in response to make sure that the pain that we went through as a team is validated," Watkins wrote. "All of the things that were written are unfortunately true. Many of these things happened to me personally. I truly hope that Julie has changed but refuse for anyone to deny the fact that our dreams had been crushed and our hearts had been broken."
While Watkins claims that Hermann eventually quit because of the letter, Hermann said that she doesn't recall any such correspondence.