Former Tennessee Volunteers women's athletic director Joan Cronan gave her endorsement to new Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann Tuesday, contradicting the account of former players who had accused Hermann of being physically and emotionally abusive while head volleyball coach at Tennessee in the 1990s:
"I hold Julie Hermann in high regard, and I believe she is well-prepared for her new role at Rutgers University.
"My recollection of the time Julie was at the University of Tennessee is that it was a very frustrating time for everyone connected with the volleyball program, which had performed far below our expectations. However, I do not recall it being an abusive situation.
"After Julie's sixth season as the head volleyball coach, I decided that a change was needed, and I moved Julie to a position in athletics administration.
"Clearly, I am disappointed that some of the players did not have a positive athletics experience at the University of Tennessee."
The statement, released by the Tennessee athletic department, comes two days after a Star-Ledger report detailed allegations of abuse by former Lady Vol volleyball players. Those players claimed that a letter, signed by 15 teammates, led to a meeting with Cronan and Hermann in which Hermann disowned her team and stormed out of the room. Cronan told the reporter, Craig Wolff, that she does not remember the letter but that the team's "frustration" was part of the reason she moved Hermann into administration the following year.
Cronan later classified Hermann as "one of the most outstanding administrators in the country."
Cronan's statement of support comes on the same day that a New York Times report implicated Hermann in a sexual discrimination suit while an administrator at Louisville. On Monday, Rutgers president Robert Barchi reaffirmed his support for his embattled new athletic director.