Since Rutgers agreed to join the Big Ten Conference, here are some of the stories that happened to stain its reputation (Rutgers officially becomes a member July 1):
COACH’S ABUSIVE STYLE GOES VIRAL
In April 2013, ESPN airs a video montage of men’s basketball coach Mike Rice bullying his players. His actions include throwing balls at players and screaming obscenities, including homophobic slurs. Rice is eventually fired and the uproar also leads to athletic director Tim Pernetti’s resignation. Pernetti said his initial intent was to dismiss Rice, but “Rutgers decided to follow a process involving university lawyers, human resources professionals and outside counsel.” The scandal goes viral, and “Saturday Night Live” spoofs the incident in a five-minute sketch starring Melissa McCarthy.
JORDAN’S COLLEGE DEGREE SNAFU
It is learned in May of 2013 that new basketball coach Eddie Jordan, a Rutgers alum, did not earn a college degree, despite a statement on the university website indicating otherwise. The school issues a release confirming Jordan did not graduate, but will remain as coach. The discrepancy is blamed on the communications department, which failed to confirm specific details with Jordan. The Scarlet Knights went 12-21 in Jordan’s first season.
NEW AD’S CONTROVERSIAL PAST
Julie Hermann is hired as Rutgers’ athletic director, and revelations of her past soon emerge. She is accused of being cruel to athletes during her time as volleyball coach at Tennessee during the 1990s. Players told of Hermann referring to them as whores and alcoholics. It is also alleged that Hermann discouraged assistant coaches from having children and fired one who became pregnant. Hermann was also at the center of a 2008 sex discrimination lawsuit during her time as a senior administrator for Louisville.
ASSISTANT ACCUSED OF BULLYING
In November 2013, Rutgers football player Jevon Tyree quit the team and asked school officials to look into the actions of defensive coordinator Dave Cohen following “an outright bullying” episode. Hermann said she talked to Tyree over the phone. Tyree said no such conversation took place. An independent investigator released a report in January mostly exonerating the university.
HOW ABOUT DEATH OF A NEWSPAPER?
Hermann landed in the news again in April after she reportedly told a class of journalism students it would be “great” if the New Jersey Star-Ledger newspaper died. In a statement, Hermann explained that she was sharing her experiences “in an informal way,” but did not apologize.
SENATOR CALLS FOR AD’S OUSTER
A couple weeks later, still less than a year after Hermann was hired, New Jersey state Sen. Richard Codey called for her dismissal. Codey wrote a letter to the university president explaining that since Hermann’s arrival, “There’s been hardly a moment without controversy.” Codey added: “These controversies and her recent comments (about the Star-Ledger) suggest Hermann needs to learn these important lessons herself. However, I don’t think she should be learning on the job at Rutgers University.”
PARALYZED SPEAKER TOLD NO THANKS
Earlier this month, Eric LeGrand, a former Rutgers football player who was paralyzed after making a tackle in 2010, thought he had been asked to give a commencement speech. He was later informed this was a case of miscommunication. “I just feel like I was offered something and it was taken back,” LeGrand told NJ.com. “I thought I could do the job, but I guess they thought different.”
TRANSFER CHARGED WITH ASSAULT
Tuesday, the football team dismissed quarterback transfer Philip Nelson following his arrest on a felony assault charge. Nelson is accused of kicking Isaac Kolstad, 24, in the head. Kolstad is fighting for his life after undergoing emergency surgery to relieve brain swelling and to remove a significant amount of brain tissue that was no longer viable. His lungs also sustained severe damage, leaving him unable to breathe on his own. It’s probably unfair to pin the actions of Nelson, a transfer from Minnesota, on Rutgers. But it didn’t help the Scarlet Knights.