Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann said school president Robert Barchi has assured her she would not lose her job amid allegations she mistreated players as a coach at Tennessee.
“It’s been communicated to me (by Barchi) that I’m the athletic director and will lead Rutgers into the Big Ten,” Hermann told ESPN in a phone interview Monday.
Hermann said Barchi spoke with the Board of Governors on her behalf and that the Board of Governors has reached out to her with support.
Hermann said Barchi’s assurances came after the Newark Star-Ledger reported Saturday that Hermann quit as the head women’s volleyball coach at Tennessee 16 years ago after all 15 of her players at the time, in a letter, accused her of mistreating them, calling them “whores, alcoholics and learning disabled.”
Hermann said Monday the allegations were “absolutely not true.”
The 49-year-old Hermann, who also spoke to reporters in a separate conference call, acknowledged she was an intense coach and may have made a few mistakes handling her team. Hermann says she has matured and believes she is qualified to lead the scandal-marred Rutgers athletic program.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he plans to examine the appointment before Hermann begins June 17.
According to the Star-Ledger report, Hermann was confronted by players, who piled into an office — some sitting on the floor and others sitting on a black leather couch. After hearing their complaints, according to the report, Hermann said she didn’t want to coach the team anymore.
The players remained anonymous in the report; however, one, Abbey Watkins, who played for Tennessee as Abbey Blazer from 1995-96, responded to the denials of mistreatment.
“I write this in response to make sure that the pain that we went through as a team is validated,” Watkins wrote in an email Monday to ESPN.com’s Andy Katz. “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 broken.”
“I pray that each of my teammates are happy and well despite what we went through,” Watkins continued in the email. “I was the first player to speak at the meeting with my team, Julie, Kim and Joan. I said that she had made me hate the game I loved. For her or anyone else in the room to say that meeting didn’t happen is appalling. I will never be able to get that day (and yes those black leather couches) out of my head.”