The newspapers in NJ are full of the disturbing news about Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Here in a nutshell is what has been and is going on:
Last year, Robert L Barchi, a medical doctor with a PhD in Biochemistry was selected to replace Rutger’s retiring President. Barchi’s credentials were impeccable: he had served as Provost at the University of Pennsylvania and as President of Thomas Jefferson University, a health sciences university similar to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ (UMDNJ). He was ideal for the job, more especially since most of the component parts of the UMDNJ were to be merged with Rutgers, a marriage that would be beneficial to both entities and presumably would attract more research dollars and prestige.
Unfortunately for Barchi, health sciences universities have little to do with athletics and the complexities of the merger must have been taking most of his time. But athletics are a big thing in New Jersey, add to that the Scarlet Knights are also about crashing in to The Big 10. And there arose a brouhaha in the basketball arena: one of the coaches used abusive, homophobic language and pelleted unsatisfactory players with basketballs. Some of this was caught on video. Last fall, when this became known to the Athletic Director (AD), the offending coach was temporarily suspended and fined. The video became public in April. The upshot of all this was that the abusive coach, Mike Rice, was fired and the popular and respected AD, Tim Pernetti, was forced to resign. Barchi was also under fire with some editorials calling for his resignation, as well.
The university lost little time setting up a search for a new AD. Their choice was announced in mid-April to loud accolades. They had chosen a woman, Julie Herman, who was currently the Assistant AD at the University of Louisville having come there under a conveniently forgotten cloud from the University of Tennessee. Her record at Louisville has not been questioned. It is the record at the University of Tennessee that everyone missed. While there, she was a bridesmaid at her assistant’s wedding and, jokingly, she warned in her toast to the bride against becoming pregnant. Well, the bride did become pregnant and she was fired. The bride sued and won $150,000 for gender discrimination. Not only that, Hermann’s basketball team felt so abused that together they wrote and signed a letter of complaint. When questioned about these things, Hermann suffered a severe case of amnesia.
Kathleen O’Brien said in her column in the Newark Star Ledger on May 30 “…that she can’t remember her assistant’s wedding. We even accept that she may have forgotten she was a bridesmaid. Ditto that she caught the bouquet: she’s a former volleyball player, so maybe she snagged ’em all the time…However, our credulity was taxed to the breaking point by the notion she forgot she wore a black bridesmaid’s dress. Black!” And she continues “perhaps the athletes she coached wouldn’t have resorted to writing a letter in which they said, “We have all come to hate the game we love.”
Steve Politti, the sports commentator for the Star Ledger had this to say “… the best Hermann could offer up when presented with the letter from that Tennessee volleyball team — with charges of “mental cruelty” and abusive language — was an impossible-to-believe memory lapse, a denial that she ever used the word “whores” and a dumbfounded “wow.” He goes on to say “This is what concerns the people at the university the most. It’s not just what Hermann did 17 years ago. It’s how she reacted to it, and how her tenure at Rutgers will begin on a series of lies and half-truths.”
What would Immanuel Kant have to say?