Rutgers Fires Athletic Director Julie Hermann and Head Football Coach Kyle Flood

Rutgers fired its football coach and athletic director on Sunday, stripping the athletic department of its most prominent employees after a season that was a failure on and off the field.

"This afternoon, I spoke with Head Football Coach Kyle Flood and met with Director of Athletics Julie Hermann and informed them that I was exercising the university’s right to terminate their contracts without cause and that I am relieving them of their duties effective immediately," Rutgers President Robert Barchi said, adding that Norries Wilson will serve as the interim head coach while a new head coach is sought.

The Scarlet Knights just finished a 4-8 season that was a mess on and off the field. Flood was suspended for three games for making inappropriate contact with a professor regarding a player's academics.

Seven players were arrested since August, including five football players, though charges were dropped against star receiver Leontee Carroo.

Flood is 27-24 in four seasons at Rutgers, including bowl appearances in his first three. He was given a two-year contract extension at the beginning of the 2014 season that runs through the 2018 season and made $1.26 million this year, according to USA Today's coaches' salary database. Among Big Ten coaches, only Illinois' Bill Cubit, who was interim coach until getting a two-year deal on Saturday, made less.

"Kyle has been a loyal and dedicated member of our community for more than a decade and our head football coach for four seasons, during which his teams won 26 games and played in three bowl games. However, our continued struggles on the field combined with several off the field issues have convinced me that we need new leadership of our football program," Barchi said in the statement.

Hermann took over in 2013 after the Mike Rice scandal led to Tim Pernetti's firing.

"Julie came to Rutgers in 2013, at a time when the program was in turmoil, with a vision at where she could take our Athletics Program. I believe, however, at this point, when major changes are being made in our football program, we need a fresh start," Barchi said.

In the statement, Barchi said he had reached the decision last week. He said that Patrick Hobbs, Dean Emeritus of the Seton Hall University School of Law, will be Rutgers' new director of athletics. Hobbs previously led the athletics program at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, during a period of major change in 2010.

Governor Christie said in a statement Sunday that he "can think of few people better suited to step into the role" of athletic director.

"Rutgers is fortunate to have him and I congratulate him on his selection," Christie said.

Christie appointed Hobbs as ombudsman for the Office of the Governor in 2014 as he dealt with the fallout from the George Washington Bridge lane closings scandal.

The news of Hermann's dismissal comes after a number of high-profile scandals hit the Rutgers sports program, which the school has been trying to build up.

In September, five football players were kicked off the team following their arrests after a violent two-week spree of home invasion robberies in 2014 and an unprovoked assault that resulted in a broken jaw for a student at the New Jersey school, according to police.

Shortly after the football players' suspensions, Rutgers University's Board of Governors met behind closed doors to discuss the university's athletics program.

Rutgers suspended football coach Kyle Flood in September for three games and fined him $50,000 for contacting a faculty member over a player's grade. Rutgers President Robert Barchi announced the punishment after he said he received an internal investigative report.

The report found that Flood emailed and met in person with a faculty member even though he knew or should have known of the university's policies prohibiting coach-initiated contact with faculty members regarding students' academic standing.

Flood's penalty came with Rutgers football reeling from the players' arrests and suspensions, all with Hermann at the helm of the school's athletics department. 

Last fall, Hermann apologized to Penn State after Rutgers fans were seen wearing offensive signs and shirts referencing the Jerry Sandusky sex scandal during a football game between the two schools.

And in the fall of 2013, a Rutgers football player quit the team after alleging that a coach verbally abused him and threatened to head-butt him during a spring study hall session.

Hermann faced criticism in the spring of last year after she said it'd be "great" if The Star-Ledger, New Jersey's largest newspaper, went out of business. In a statement, Rutgers said her statements were "intended to give the students some understanding of the challenges she has faced" and were not expected to be made public.

The Star-Ledger was the first to publish allegations made by players of Hermann's 1996 Volunteers' women's volleyball team that she was verbally and emotionally abusive to the team. In a letter the players gave to a Tennessee administrator, they said Hermann called them "whores, alcoholics and learning disabled" when she was their coach.

Despite the allegations of abuse, Governor Chis Christie and the university stood by her as she took on the role of athletic director in June 2013.

Over the last decade, Rutgers has been trying hard to build up its major sports programs, something some in the university see as one way to improve the prestige of the New Jersey's flagship state university. The university absorbed two medical schools in 2013 as part of a higher-education restructuring in New Jersey designed largely to make Rutgers into a biomedical research powerhouse.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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