Rutgers fired football coach Kyle Flood and athletic director Julie Hermann on Sunday, ridding the athletic department of its most prominent employees after a season that was a failure on and off the field.
University president Robert Barchi announced that Patrick Hobbs, Dean Emeritus of the Seton Hall University School of Law, will take over for Hermann.
Barchi decided last week to make a change in leadership, he said in a statement, and told the football team of the change at about 2 p.m. Sunday. As players left the team meeting room about 45 minutes later, everyone declined to comment except senior Quentin Gause, who was team captain.
"Just business decisions," Gause said was the message from Barchi. "Everyone cares for Flood, but decisions have to be made."
The reaction in the room was silence, Gause said, and Barchi provided no other details about the Flood decision or what would happen to the assistant coaches. Assistant coach Norries Wilson will be interim coach.
"We asked questions and stuff but at the end of the day, it's a business decision, but keeping everybody together. That's what it's all about at this point," Gause said.
The Scarlet Knights finished 4-8 after blowing a big lead to Maryland on Saturday, which was not the worst of the team's embarrassments this season.
Flood was suspended for three games for making inappropriate contact with a professor regarding a player's academics. Also, seven players were arrested since August, though charges were dropped against star receiver Leontee Carroo.
Flood was 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.
The new AD, Hobbs, did a stint as Seton Hall's AD and was initially targeted to be an interim replacement for Hermann, but Barchi said Rutgers decided to offer him the job permanently Friday.
Hermann took over in 2013 and came from Louisville, where she was an associate AD. She walked into a reeling athletic department, which saw Mike Rice get fired for physically and verbally abusing his players. And Tim Pernetti, the AD who helped land Rutgers a spot in the Big Ten, had been let go for only suspending Rice when a video of Rice's actions were first brought to him.
But Hermann brought her own baggage. She had been accused of verbally abusing players when she was volleyball coach at Tennessee and was named in a discrimination lawsuit there. The process that led to her hiring was criticized for being unfair to male candidates. Prominent Rutgers alum Kate Sweeney, a former Knights athlete who co-chaired the search committee, was reportedly insistent that a woman be hired for the job.
Hermann's first few months at Rutgers were tumultuous and she never seemed to gain the full trust of the administration. When Flood was under investigation for breaking rules regarding contact between coaches and professors in August and ultimately suspended, Hermann made no public comments beyond prepared statements.
Hermann met with Barchi at his home Sunday morning, a meeting that lasted 11 minutes. Barchi later released a statement. Hermann's contract runs through the 2017-18 school year.
Flood was hired in a rush after former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano left to become coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January 2012. Flood, a former assistant under Schiano, came up a victory short of taking Rutgers to its first Big East Conference title in 2012 and finished 9-4.
The Scarlet Knights slipped to 6-7 the next season, but went a surprising 8-4 last year in their first season in the Big Ten.
This season, however, was a wreck.
Flood was suspended Sept. 16 and fined $50,000 after the university's investigation determined he knowingly broke rules when he asked to meet with a professor for a player who was unable to become academically eligible in summer school.
Flood missed games against Penn State, Kansas and Michigan State; Wilson was acting coach.
When Flood returned, the team was 2-3 and then rallied from a huge deficit to beat Indiana 55-52. But they only won one more game the rest of the way, against Army. The season ended Saturday with a brutal 46-41 loss to Maryland, blowing a 31-13 halftime lead at home to finish 1-7 in the Big Ten and last in the East Division.