Another Controversy Hits New Rutgers AD Julie Hermann
New Brunswick, NJ
Controversies keep piling up on incoming Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann after it was revealed that she was the focus of another lawsuit during her time at Louisville in 2008.
Hermann has already been accused of abusive behavior toward student-athletes during her time as the women's volleyball coach at Tennessee.
The New York Times reported that assistant track and field coach Mary Banker approached Hermann, then a senior athletics administrator at Louisville, about what she thought was sexist behavior and "discriminatory treatment" by head coach Ron Mann.
According to the legal filings obtained by The Times, Hermann initially was supportive of Banker after hearing of her complaints, even praising the coach in an e-mail.
However, the filing said that Hermann expressed concern after Banker went to human resources with her complaints about Mann.
The filing stated that "Hermann called Banker into her office and flat-out told her, 'You should not have gone to HR.'"
Also, Hermann allegedly 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." Banker was fired within three weeks after taking her concerns to human resources.
Banker then sued the University of Louisville Athletic Association after she was fired. The lawsuit held Hermann largely responsible for that decision. After a trial, a jury awarded Banker $300,000 plus attorney's fees.
In February, a Kentucky appeals court overturned the decision, ruling Banker did not prove that Louisville officials had retaliated against her.
Banker's attorney, Bryan Cassis, appealed the decision to the Kentucky Supreme Court. Lawyers for the Louisville athletic department argued Banker was fired because of poor job performance.
In an e-mail to ESPN, Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich defended Hermann, saying "In 15½ years I never had one problem with her".
"She did impeccable work for us. No one has said anything the past 15 years. She is beloved here," Jurich said.
Despite the controversies, Rutgers president Robert Barchi gave a vote of confidence for Hermann, and supporters defended her as a strong leader and advocate for women.
Hermann had been sued by former Tennessee volleyball assistant coach Ginger Hineline in the 1990s. According to the suit, Hineline accused Hermann of discouraging her from getting pregnant. Hineline was awarded $150,000 in a settlement in 1997.
Rutgers spokesman Greg Trevor said Hermann had discussed Banker's lawsuit with the co-chairman of the search committee and the university counsel's office. Hermann previously told ESPN she discussed the Tennessee lawsuit with the school's search firm.
Louisville spokesman Kenny Klein said the school cannot talk about pending litigation.
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