By Kristian Dyer
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Admittedly, Julie Hermann’s recent comments (if true) are not well thought out. But to ask for her resignation? Enough already.
Now on the job for almost a year-and-a-half as athletic director at Rutgers, reports on Friday said that Hermann made a joke in the fall of 2013 during a departmental meeting when she said that they need to get in touch with potential donors but not “in a Sandusky way.” The privately made comment is now the latest black eye for an athletic program that has had little positive press as of late.
And now, the witch hunt is on to fire Hermann after less than half-a-year on the job. At some point, this nonsense has to stop. Not every misstep has to be an outrage worthy of termination.
If Hermann’s comments were made publicly within the context of a press conference or spoken to an individual member of the media or perhaps even in a public forum, than her remarks would have serious consequences. That would show a severe lack of sensitivity to the victims affected by Jerry Sandusky’s alleged actions and just poor public relations savvy in general.
But these comments, in a meeting with staff members, should not be construed as anything other than private comments. If true and Rutgers has acknowledged them as such, then they are certainly tasteless and inappropriate but certainly not something directed at a wider audience other than some word play for her fellow staff members in the room.
It was regrettable but it was also private.
It is part of being a human and something that every person is guilty of doing at some point, an inopportune slip of the tongue. It was a careless moment where she tried to make a bad, ill-advised joke. It may have elicited a chuckle around the room but it was simply a bad joke and inappropriate.
We live in an era of hypersensitivity after the recent string of scandals and bad news emanating from the NFL for the past month. Lessons will hopefully be learned and attitudes and lifestyles adjusted. What Hermann did here – no matter the setting being public or private – was wrong and distasteful.
But it isn’t worthy of termination.
At some point in our society, we have to realize that public figures can and will make mistakes. They will make bad choices and there will be the occasional slip of the tongue. It doesn’t make it right or excusable, it just makes Julie Hermann human.
There has to be a stop to the finger-pointing, and that isn’t a shot at NJ.com for writing and publishing this article, something they have every right to do after they felt a comfort level with the information they gathered. What it does mean is that Hermann is a human and subject to errors, mistakes and miscues. This statement made last fall likely isn’t the first time she has said something in private she wishes she could take back and likely it won’t be her last.
In this specific case, Hermann must be allowed to atone and apologize and then continue on with her life and her job. No one was harmed by what she did other than her own reputation. She comes across looking crass and base for one moment in her life. It is something she might never be able to shake, a tarnish to her name. That alone is punishment enough.
Let’s not let that one moment effect how her legacy will be written. Time to move on from this one.
Kristian R. Dyer is the Jets’ beat reporter for Metro New York and contributes to Yahoo! Sports as well as WFAN. He can be followed on Twitter @KristianRDyer.
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