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Rutgers roiled again after reports on new hire

NEWARK, N.J. -- Gov. Chris Christie plans to speak with Rutgers officials about a report that Julie Hermann, the athletic director hired to clean up the school's scandal-scarred program, quit as Tennessee's women's volleyball coach 16 years ago after her players complained she ruled through humiliation, fear and emotional abuse.

And a state legislator says he's heard enough, calling on the university president to resign.

Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak says the governor wants to get more details before commenting. "He's not going to make any judgments at this time," Drewniak said.

According to The Star-Ledger of Newark, Tennessee players wrote that the mental cruelty they suffered when Hermann was coach was unbearable. They said she called them "whores, alcoholics and learning disabled."

Hermann was hired May 15 to replace the ousted Tim Pernetti, who was let go after basketball coach Mike Rice was fired for abusive behavior. Hermann, 49, is scheduled to take over at Rutgers on June 17. She would become the first woman to run the Scarlet Knights' athletic program and one of three female directors at the 124 schools playing at college football's top tier.

It's uncertain whether the report will force Rutgers to reconsider the appointment. It also could give impetus to those who want new Rutgers president Robert Barchi to step down after yet another black eye for the state's largest university.

The university had not issued a comment Sunday afternoon.

Hermann was not available for comment but told The Star-Ledger she did not recall the Tennessee letter. The newspaper said when it was read to her by phone, she replied, "Wow."

New Jersey state Sen. Ray Lesniak said Barchi "has proven not to be up to the task" and has written a letter to Christie recommending that Pernetti be given the job back, saying he has been a scapegoat from the start.

Added Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver: "The questionable decision-making at this program so heavily funded by taxpayers continues to astound me."

Louisville volleyball coach Anne Kordes, who has known Hermann as a coach and a former Cardinals' student-athlete for 15 years, came to her defense.

"I have only known Julie to conduct herself with the highest level of professionalism and integrity," Kordes said.

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