Commentary: All Roads Lead Back to Barchi

Newly hired athletic director Julie Hermann finds herself at the forefront of the latest Rutgers athletics scandal following a Saturday night report by the Newark Star-Ledger. The Ledger report details alleged lies regarding a pregnancy lawsuit and allegations of abuse during her time as a college volleyball coach.

In what is becoming a monthly trend, Rutgers is involved in yet another ugly scandal, this one centered around newly hired athletic director Julie Hermann. Before her first day on the job, Hermann is under fire following a Star-Ledger report that details mistreatment of former volleyball players and failure to tell the truth regarding her pregnancy lawsuit with a former employee.

Detailed in the Star-Ledger, there are two major alarms that should go off in the minds of everyone familiar with Rutgers athletics.

For one, Hermann is accused of being an abusive coach. Rutgers fires Mike Rice (rightfully so) for his abuse of players at practice and hires an athletic director accused of the same exact thing during her tenure as a head volleyball coach.

Rutgers promised complete transparency following Tim Pernetti's resignation and the developments of the Rice scandal behind closed doors. Then a month later, Rutgers hires an athletic director that it looks like, at best, forgot key details of the lawsuit and, at worse, lied about key details in her introductory press conference. Could Hermann be off to a worse start?

This is not an issue of Hermann's qualifications to serve as an athletic director, nor does the blame for yet another Rutgers failure of process fall solely on her.

Yes, Hermann messed up big time in not disclosing the truth. But problems such as the latest exposed lawsuits and alleged abuse of former volleyball players have been the norm for Rutgers in recent years, long before Hermann's rise to athletic director.

From gaffes as silly as Eddie Jordan's lack of a Rutgers degree to as severe as Rice's abusive practices, no executive decision made has been enough to stop the nonsense.

The demands for Robert Barchi's removal only strengthens following the Star-Ledger's reports.

Rutgers can certainly take action against the decision-makers yet again. Kate Sweeney and Richard Edwards co-chaired the search committee that clearly failed in its background checks, but who put them in place?

Tim Pernetti offered his forced resignation after mistakenly giving Rice another chance, but who gave him free reign with no questions asked during the initial decision in November?

Barchi did everything he could and used every mistake in the book to hide from the Rice video instead of stepping in and taking action.

All roads lead back to Barchi, who took over for Richard L. McCormick two years ago and has been the executive face of New Jersey's biggest university.

Following the latest debacle, which has yet to fully play out, one question stands above all others.

Is the UMDNJ merger worth this much incompetence at the executive decision-making level?

The medical merger is more important than any single decision in the Rutgers athletic department, but as embarrassments continue to pile up, confidence in Barchi to get anything of substance done fades.


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