Comments have surfaced showing Rutgers Athletic Director Julie Hermann telling a university journalism class it "would be great" if the New Jersey Star-Ledger went out of business, just weeks before the newspaper laid off 167 employees.
Many found her comments tone deaf and against the spirit of education and an informed citizenry, while others thought her comments made good points about sensationalism and bias in the media, NJ.com reported
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"If they’re not writing headlines that are getting our attention, they’re not selling ads – and they die," Hermann told the class. "And the Ledger almost died in June, right?"
"They might die again next month," a student responded.
"That would be great. I’m going to do all I can to not give them a headline to keep them alive," she said, apparently not realizing the irony.
Hermann was hired in May of last year after it was revealed the former athletic director, Tim Pernetti, failed to fire men's basketball coach Mike Rice after a video surfaced of him throwing basketballs at his players and shouting gay slurs at them. Pernetti resigned shortly thereafter.
When Hermann took over the new job, her past was on the minds of many — including those of journalists.
In 1997, when Hermann was the head women's basketball coach at the University of Tennessee, she was accused of discouraging an assistant coach from getting pregnant. The suit was decided in the assistant coach's favor, and the school ultimately paid $150,000 in damages.
Hermann was asked about the 17-year-old suit at her first press conference, as well as a letter her players wrote to her asking her to resign. She said she didn't remember the note, but then said she did remember it a week later. Ever since, it seems she has not had a favorable view of New Jersey media.
More than 700 comments have flooded the article on NJ.com
about the nature of Hermann's comments.
"While it is unfortunate that jobs may be lost and families may be negatively effected, the SL has done the State of NJ and her people a great disservice over the years when it comes to it's [sic] choices in covering Rutgers University Sports — both in the choices of stories it chooses to cover and not cover, as well as it's tone and agenda in doing so," wrote njdynasty.
Commenter Mars wrote, "Part of Julie's job description as CEO of an athletic dept. of a major university in major conference for the first season it will be in is to generate positive press. Instead she found it to be much more important to teach a class of petty politics in a journalism school. Those are actions of a very poor leader."
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