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May 28th, 2013
01:42 PM ET

Was new Rutgers athletics head abusive?

On paper, the former University of Tennessee women's volleyball head coach looks like the type of visionary Rutgers needs to help its athletic program recover after a scandal at the school in April. But claims about her past paint a different picture about her leadership abilities.

Women who played on Julie Hermann's team 16 years ago are coming forward with allegations that could undermine her work before she even begins the new job.

In 1996, the team wrote a letter outlining the unbearable "mental cruelty" she inflicted, and accusing their coach of calling them "whores, alcoholics, and learning disabled." The letter was published Sunday in Newark's "Star- Ledger" newspaper.

Hermann has also had to answer questions about an old lawsuit by former assistant coach Ginger Heinline, who claimed Hermann fired her because she got pregnant. Heinline won a $150,000 settlement.

Rutgers says its attorneys had investigated this case before Hermann was hired and they stand by their decision to bring her to the University. In a statement made on Monday, the Knights' incoming athletic director admits she's an intense and passionate coach, but denies she was ever abusive.

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