In case you missed it, Rutgers University is in the news again for another questionable hiring/firing decision - this time related to hiring a new Athletic Director, Julie Hermann. Here's a quick rundown from NPR:
"Over this past weekend, New Jersey's Star-Ledger reported that in the late 1990s, when Hermann was coaching the women's volleyball team at the University of Tennessee, players had accused her of ruling "through humiliation, fear and emotional abuse."
The Star-Ledger's report has, understandably, put pressure on Rutgers to explain how it came to hire Hermann if such allegations had been made about her. In Tuesday's Star-Ledger, columnist Steve Politi argues that the school is giving Hermann "the benefit of doubt that Tim Pernetti never received."
In his statement, Rutgers' president says the school's search for a new athletic director "included a thorough background check conducted by one of the world's leading private security firms." And, Barchi adds, "Julie's record established her as a proven leader in athletics administration with a strong commitment to academic success as well as athletic excellence, and a strong commitment to the well-being of student athletes."
It goes without saying that a deep background check of legal channels probably isn't going to uncover a internal investigation 15 years ago, right? Hermann has stated she was never notified of the run her players made to have her fired.
But wait - there's more. Rutgers has hired Hermann to replace Tim Pernetti — who stepped down in April after it was learned that Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice had been videotaped assaulting his players and spewing homophobic slurs at them during practices. Pernetti lost his job because he had learned about Rice's misconduct last December, but agreed with the recommendations of the school's lawyers and human relations staff to only suspend the coach for three games and fine him $50,000. Rice was fired in April after the videotapes went viral.
Buried under the reports and videotape of Rice treating his players like crap was this little nugget of gold from Pernetti, who had plenty to say when asked why he didn't fire Rice immediately after seeing the tapes that showed Rick acting like an abusive moron towards his players. From Pernetti's resignation letter:
"As you know, my first instincts when I saw the videotape of Coach Rice's behavior was to fire him immediately. However, Rutgers decided to follow a process involving university lawyers, human resources professionals, and outside counsel. Following review of the independent investigative report, the consensus was that university policy would not justify dismissal. I have admitted my role in, and regret for, that decision, and wish that I had the opportunity to go back and override it for the sake of everyone involved."
Holy ####. Which is to say that if you catch someone throwing things at employees and generally being abusive, you probably need to move to fire that person and not be talked into "we don't have enough".
Don't have enough power to make that happen? Go to your boss and have them sign off on retention of said abuser. In writing. That always loosens up the term process a bit.
Rice was awful to his players. Pernetti got the tape, brought lots of people to rubber-stamp the term and group-think ensued.
The moral? Group-think can be hazardous to your career. Fire morons fast.