Details of lawsuit when Julie Hermann was Lady Vols volleyball coach released

Hermann was accused of discrimination

Julie Hermann

Photo by Mel Evans

Julie Hermann

FILE - In this May 15, 2013 file photo, Julie Hermann listens at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., as it is announced that she is to be its new athletic director. A high ranking official at the University of Tennessee has voiced her support for Hermann, who is facing allegations she verbally abused players while she was the volleyball coach with the Volunteers.  (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

FILE - In this May 15, 2013 file photo, Julie Hermann listens at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J., as it is announced that she is to be its new athletic director. A high ranking official at the University of Tennessee has voiced her support for Hermann, who is facing allegations she verbally abused players while she was the volleyball coach with the Volunteers. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

In June 1997, a former women’s assistant volleyball coach was awarded $150,000 in a discrimination lawsuit against the University of Tennessee.

Sixteen years later, the story has been thrust into the spotlight. Its antagonist, former Lady Vols coach Julie Hermann, is the center of an ongoing hailstorm of controversy as the maligned new athletic director at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

On Thursday, the News Sentinel received UT’s court files on the case through an open records request.

The 1,000-plus pages of depositions, motions and memorandums clarify the claims of Ginger Hineline, who contended that she was discriminated against by Hermann and then-Lady Vols athletic director Joan Cronan for becoming pregnant, and include Hermann acknowledging a 1994 incident in which she caused her players to have “their feelings hurt.”

Hermann, Tennessee’s coach from 1991-96, was introduced as Rutgers’ new athletic director on May 15.

Inquiries surrounding her past and a story last weekend by The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., citing 15 former Lady Vols detailing verbal and emotional abuse during her coaching tenure turned Hermann’s once-celebrated hiring into a chronicled and critiqued calamity.

In a 368-page deposition dated Aug. 26-27, 1996, for Hineline’s lawsuit, Hermann categorically denies

her former assistant’s firing being a result of pregnancy. She’s stuck to that claim since being hired at Rutgers.

Hermann testified that she, Hineline and a third assistant coach, Kim Tibbetts (formerly Kim Zenner), “talked extensively” about having children and “I think we all conceded that for each, you know, when we’re going to do that, it’ll be difficult.”

“I don’t remember saying anything verbatim to her that she can’t,” Hermann said in the deposition. “I know that I did not say anything to her saying you can’t have a baby and do this job.”

Hineline was told that she would be terminated on Jan. 25, 1995. The firing came at Cronan’s request and was carried out by Hermann. Both testified and still contend today that it was due to poor performance and “an accumulation (of incidents) that just kept snowballing,” Hermann testified.

When asked about the suit during her introductory news conference at Rutgers, Hermann noted that she’s overseen employees for 25 years and said, “It was litigated although I do not believe in the outcome,” and responded, “I’m not familiar with that” when asked about Hineline’s claim that she was told not to become pregnant.

In her 1996 testimony, Hermann detailed “increased tension” between her and Hineline in 1994. She acknowledged that it was due to Hineline’s constant focus on wedding planning and starting a family.

“Ginger had come to me in June when her and David got back from the honeymoon saying they wanted to have a child and said, ‘You know, I want to (do) this,’ and I said, ‘That’s between you, God and David; go make your own decision.’ And that was it. It didn’t need to be discussed anymore as far as I was concerned,” Hermann testified.

Hineline ultimately won the lawsuit in U.S. District Court and was awarded $50,000 for back pay, $50,000 in additional pay and $50,000 for compensatory damages, in addition to legal fees.

UT was denied a motion for retrial in July 1997. U.S. District Judge Robert P. Murrian cited a total lack of paperwork from UT chronicling Hineline’s job performance and a note penned by Cronan praising Hineline two weeks before firing her.

Much of the storm surrounding Rutgers’ hiring of Hermann is the circumstance. Former basketball coach Mike Rice was fired and athletic director Tim Pernetti was forced to resign in the spring after video surfaced of Rice physically and verbally abusing his players.

Upon hiring Hermann from the University of Louisville, Rutgers President Robert Barchi lauded the 15-year administrator as holding “a commitment to the university’s core values (and) a deep concern for our student athletes.”

Then The Star-Ledger published its scathing investigative story stating that 15 former Lady Vols claimed she coached at UT using “humiliation, fear and emotional abuse.”

Hermann has since refuted the report and others have come to her aid.

In discussing Hineline’s ability to work as a liaison between head coach and players, Hermann recounted misspeaking during a postgame speech following a 1994 loss to Alabama.

“The players took offense to that, and that one issue was pretty burned in their mind from the beginning of October towards the end of October.”

Asked how she misspoke, Hermann replied, “Somewhere in there I apparently made comment that made (redacted) feel that (redacted) they were illegitimate children or something like that, which was not at all anything that I thought at any time, and they got their feelings hurt.”

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn.

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Comments » 32

MikeNPS writes:

Why would Rutgers hire this woman?

lemme_axya_this writes:

I can see how a "note penned by Cronan" praising Hineline two weeks before firing her would prove problematic.

chipmurphy461 writes:

“I don’t remember saying anything verbatim to her that she can’t,” Hermann said in the deposition.

A lot of things are understood when they aren't said "verbatim".

Observer43 writes:

UT lost the case. That should tell you who was right and who was wrong.

ROADFOREMAN_KNOWS_ALL writes:

As I read this story, and items that have appeared in the New Jersey media (particularly the Star-Ledger), one word comes to mind that seems to describe Ms. Hermann = slippery.

SuziQ writes:

Joan Cronan should have remained silent, what was she thinking?

jbc writes:

From CNN ...

"Bad bosses: The Psycho-path to Success?"
http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/19/busines...

fearthehound writes:

Hard to imagine anybody in Knoxville really giving a rat's rear about this sordid bit of ancient history. If Rutgers wants her, let them have her.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say the curse of "BBQ of white lies" goes further back than Pearl it seems. Witch Doctor say "illegitimate children"? Witch Doctors coach only used slang when talking to team.lol
Bones never lie.

laraccoon writes:

in response to jbc:

From CNN ...

"Bad bosses: The Psycho-path to Success?"
http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/19/busines...

very interesting read .

sigfreud writes:

Another thanks for that cnn link.

thevoice writes:

She gone.

FearlessFreep writes:

This is not a person who should be put in charge of an athletic department. My opinion is gained from first-hand experience with her and not from this.

StoneJackBaller writes:

She reminds me of a disciplinary catholic school warden. She also makes me think of the witch in Wizard of Oz. She may release the flying monkeys anytime now.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to jbc:

From CNN ...

"Bad bosses: The Psycho-path to Success?"
http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/19/busines...

Are we misdiagnosing the "trolls" ?

moonpie-ellie writes:

in response to StoneJackBaller:

She reminds me of a disciplinary catholic school warden. She also makes me think of the witch in Wizard of Oz. She may release the flying monkeys anytime now.

Yeah, she kinda looks like someone who would stomp on a bunny and then smirk.

GOJO writes:

Let it go KNS. What happened here 16 years ago is not germane to the future of U.T. athletics. Keep digging up a dead cat & you just get more stink on you.
Her employer is now Rutgers, & before that Louisville. What they decide is not any of UT or KNS' business. Move on. Are you trying to compete with National Inquirer?

jbc writes:

From NBC ...

Is your boss slowly killing you
http://www.today.com/id/45973010/ns/t...#.UajTTMu9KSM

She looks a little like Faye Dunaway

kyvol98 writes:

Waiting on a few to blame Dave Hart.......

volnsc writes:

I'm sure the lady has a few problems and possibly some wires lose, but coaching philosopy 20 years ago was a bit different than it is today. I wince just a bit when I read "she caused her players to have “their feelings hurt”, and "Lady Vols claimed she coached at UT using “humiliation, fear and emotional abuse.” I never had a coach that didn't use these tactics. And from the sound of it the Lady Vols volleyball pretty much sucked at the time. JMO. Go Vols!

ROADFOREMAN_KNOWS_ALL writes:

in response to jbc:

From NBC ...

Is your boss slowly killing you
http://www.today.com/id/45973010/ns/t...#.UajTTMu9KSM

She looks a little like Faye Dunaway

Cripes! No kidding.

Snapshot writes:

in response to StoneJackBaller:

She reminds me of a disciplinary catholic school warden. She also makes me think of the witch in Wizard of Oz. She may release the flying monkeys anytime now.

That's funny. If she has any flying monkeys to release, seems like now would be the time! lol

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Ghost_Of_Neyland:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor still watch cartoons!. Witch Doctor say the magic herb helps heal Witch Doctor. hehe
Bones never lie.

volposter writes:

I originally had though Joan Cronin would make a good permanent AD especially considering all the issues UT athletics were having,and was disappointed when she was not. Now I am glad that did not happen based on these recent reports.

tennrich1 writes:

What Mike Greenberg on ESPN got out of all this is Governor Christie(sp) make a comment supporting the AD and it was all for political reasons...and the obvious reason Greenie slammed him ????...political views...funny!!!

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Ghost_Of_Neyland:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor say its not too bad..even the Indians wouldn't kill the crazy ones..we too much fun.
Bones never lie.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Ghost_Of_Neyland:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor say then you have every right to not read anything I post..Witch Doctor say use the ignore feature and stay away...
Witch Doctor say easy...promise not to read of be interested in any of yours..yawn
Bones never lie.
buh-bye!

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Ghost_Of_Neyland:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor say rookie dont understand detachment..Witch Doctor really dont care. Witch Doctor thought your superiority could make you ignore? ..thanks!
Bones never lie.
Witch Doctor yawn at weak attempts...well beneath my standards

utvolfan1955 writes:

in response to Ghost_Of_Neyland:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

looks like Jeffy is back

ebaypat#209443 writes:

I'm not so sure the evidence proves that Ms. Hermann is such a bad person. Lawsuits by disgruntled employees occur all to frequently and are often settled out of court either because they have merit or because the defendant chose to pay rather than incur attorney costs. In this case, UT decided to go to court presumably because they believed they could win. No doubt Ms. Hermann may have said something that hurt someone's feelings, but that in itself is not a crime. It would be a shame to destroy a career over the prior incident and litigation. If she was so bad, one would expect that there would be other significant incidents during her career and none have been reported so far.

CoverOrange writes:

Egos abound on this board. And are quite sensitive.

weffie writes:

So, to read between the lines, she will call her students bastards but not whores? One is part of her vernacular; one is not.
It's 17 years ago, but don't lie about it now.

The bigger question for those who have the deposition transcript is whether the video was addressed, and at what length she was asked about it. If it wasn't brought up (which would be very, very surprising), then Hermann's credibility is enhanced considerably. If she was questioned about it at length, it's all the more implausible that the video slipped her mind last month.

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