Rutgers makes B1G gender history with athletic director hire

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Still a little over a year away from officially joining the Big Ten, Rutgers has already plowed some athletic department territory rarely before seen in the history of the conference.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Rutgers announced that it has hired Julie Hermann as the university’s new athletic director, ending a search that had stretched nearly six weeks.  Hermann comes to the Scarlet Knights from Louisville, where she served as the Cardinals’ executive senior associate athletic director.  She had been at the U of L for the past 15 years.

Hermann will become the second-ever female athletic director in the Big Ten (Michigan State’s Merrily Dean Baker) when the Scarlet Knights move their athletic programs from the Big East next July.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Julie Hermann to the Rutgers community,” said president Robert L. Barchi. “She is one of the most respected athletics administrators in the country and she was deeply involved in moving Louisville from Conference USA to the Big East and from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Her 15 years of leadership experience will be an invaluable asset to the university as we prepare to enter the Big Ten.”

The Hermann hiring culminates a tumultuous few months for the university in general and the athletic department specifically.

In April, popular and highly-successful RU athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned his post thanks in large part to the public backlash over his handling of the Mike Rice situation.  Hermann will now be charged with cleaning up the mess left by her predecessor — and enjoy the fruits of his labor as well.

“Rutgers is poised to soar,” said Hermann. “With a world-class faculty and academic reputation, a strategic location and the power and reach of the Big Ten, the university is positioned to create a best-in-class experience for every student who accepts the challenge to learn and compete at Rutgers.”

Not only will Hermann become the second athletic director of the female persuasion in Big Ten history, she also joins a rather exclusive club at the FBS level.  Of the 124 schools that played FBS football in 2012, just five of them had females in charge of their athletic departments; just two of those female athletic directors — Maryland’s Debbie Yow, Cal’s Sandy Barbour — were from so-called automatic qualifying conferences.

It should also be noted that Georgia State will be transitioning to the FBS level, and their athletic department is headed by Cheryl Levick.

All told, there are 26 female athletic directors at the 300-member-plus Div-I level, including 10 at FCS schools.  Below is a brief look at the five female FBS athletic directors (Texas has separate athletic directors for men’s and women’s sports) and whose company Hermann will join:

Sandy Barbour, Cal
Per her bio on the school’s official website, Cal has claimed 17 team national titles and another 81 individual crowns since Barbour assumed control of the athletic department in 2004.  Two major facility upgrades have taken place on Barbour’s watch: the 142,000-square-foot Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance and a massive renovation of Memorial Stadium.  She also performed a massive renovation on the stadium’s tenant by firing longtime head football coach Jeff Tedford following the 2012 season.

Cary Groth, Nevada
One of the first-ever female athletic directors when hired by her alma mater Northern Illinois in 1994, Groth has been with the Wolf Pack since March of 2004.  Groth’s greatest success at Nevada was the move from the WAC to the Mountain West.  She retired in April of this year after more than 30 years working in collegiate athletics.

Debbie Yow, North Carolina State
One of the most respected athletic directors of any gender by those in athletics, Yow has been at NCSU since 2010 after leaving the same job at Maryland after 16 years.  Yow has served as president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and the national Division I-A Athletic Directors Association, and is a member of the National Football Foundation board of directors.  The most significant move of her three-year tenure was the firing of Tom O’Brien as head football coach and hiring Dave Doeren away from Northern Illinois.

Lynn Hickey, UT-San Antonio
Hickey has been at UTSA since 2000, adding three sports program to the athletic department roll during that time.  Her most notable achievement, however, was moving the Roadrunners to the WAC in 2012 and then, with that conference folding football-wise, jumping to Conference USA beginning this season.

Kathy Beauregard, Western Michigan
The longest-serving athletic director in the MAC, Beauregard will be entering her 17th year in that post and her 33rd overall at the school.  Facility upgrades have been the hallmark of her long tenure at the university.

WATCH: Ohio State fans infiltrate Michigan’s practice in Italy

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The greatest rivalry in all of sports never takes a break, even during the offseason on an entirely different continent.

One day after he showered Pope Francis with some Michigan-themed gear, Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverines conducted the first on-field practice of their Italian road trip.  There were some “spies” in their midst, however, as a handful of Ohio State fans clad in Buckeyes colors drove a couple of hours to take in their enemy’s practice.

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“I’ve still got my eyes on those guys,” an amused Harbaugh said. “Still a little suspicious.”

The fans, though, came in peace, with one even offering kind words for what the head coach has meant to The Game.

“We love the Big Ten,” Alicia Sexton, a military teacher based in Naples and a graduate of OSU, told the Detroit News. “We really are appreciative to Jim Harbaugh. We love that the rivalry is back, and it makes watching the game in November fun. Harbaugh has definitely brought the rivalry back.”

Suspended LSU player facing felony burglary charge

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And now we know a little more of the rest of the story.

Wednesday, LSU announced that Adrian Magee had been indefinitely suspended from the football program.  The stated reason?  Unspecified violations of team rules.

Not surprisingly, word subsequently surfaced that the offensive lineman had become entangled in an off-field situation.  Specifically, Magee, after a warrant had been issued for his arrest, has been charged with simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling in connection to an alleged on-campus apartment heist.  The charge, it should be noted, is a felony.

According to reports, Magee actually returned some of the items he allegedly lifted after finding out there may be video evidence of the incident.  From WBRZ-TV:

According to Baton Rouge Police, the victim returned to his apartment just before midnight on April 1. The victim says he returned to find the door to his apartment was forced open and he was missing electronic items and cash.

The victim says he was looking through the apartment when Magee stuck his head through the open door and asked the victim if he had been burglarized. The victim says he’s an LSU fan and immediately recognized Magee due to him wearing clothes with his football jersey number on it.

After the victim told Magee that he was going to check his security cameras to see who burglarized his apartment, Magee walked out and soon returned with several of the victim’s belongings, according to the arrest warrant.

According to the victim, an Xbox gaming console, six Xbox games, Gucci flip flops, an Onyx bluetooth speaker, and $1,200 cash were stolen from the apartment. The victim’s girlfriend’s purse was also dumped out and rifled through.

A three-star member of the Tigers’ 2015 recruiting class, Magee was rated as the No. 45 offensive tackle in the country and the No. 20 player at any position in the state of Louisiana.  An injury forced the 6-5, 309-pound lineman to take a redshirt as a true freshman.

Last year as a reserve, Magee saw action in three games.

This spring, Magee started at right tackle because of an injury to returning starter Toby Weathersby.  Weathersby is expected to be fully recovered for the start of summer camp in early August, with Magee sliding back to his role as a backup.

Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson frowns upon Group of Five playoff idea

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The chances a team from the Group of Five ever gets selected to play in the College Football Playoff range from slim to none. As such, talk from within the Group of Five has kicked up from time to time, especially over the last year, about a possible Group of Five-only version of the College Football Playoff. The reactions to that idea has been mixed, but add Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson to the group of people who thinks that idea should be tossed aside.

While attending meetings for the College Football Playoff, Benson told reporters he would prefer to see conference champions from the Group of Five (American, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt) receive better bowl bids instead of playing in a minor version of the College Football Playoff.

It’s time to have a realistic conversation about creating a playoff for the Group of 5,” NIU athletic director Sean Frazier told Brett McMurphy, then of ESPN.com, back in December. “Why not?”

Well, there are a number of reasons. First, not everybody seems to be on board with playing the college football version equivalent of the NIT. Sure, it would be on TV and would get ratings, but the reward at the end of the JV playoff would mean little. Nobody would consider it a national championship. That’s what the FCS is for.

Benson is not alone in his anti-Group of Five playoff stance. MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher also has been on record saying he is not interested in such a plan, and he oversaw a member from his conference go undefeated last season and play in the Cotton Bowl (Western Michigan).

My initial reaction is that’s not something I’m interested in,” Steinbrecher said, according to MLive.com in December. “We’re part of the (College Football Playoff) system, and it’s done a lot of very good things for the Mid-American Conference.”

Without the support from two of the Group of Five commissioners (and you can almost be guaranteed you can add Mike Aresco of the American Athletic Conference to the list given the conference’s push to be considered a power conference), this idea is pretty much dead on arrival.

LSU’s Arden Key: I am not sitting out my junior year

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After taking a little time off from the LSU football program this spring, Arden Key calmed the nerves of Tigers fans on Wednesday with a simple message on his Twitter account.

Key announced to his Twitter followers he will be on the field for the Tigers this fall. Back in February, LSU released a statement saying Key would be stepping away from the program “for personal reasons.” What those personal reasons were is unknown, but he did so with the support of head coach Ed Orgeron and the entire football program at the time.

Key earned second-team All-SEC honors last season after leading LSU with 14.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks, a school record. With news, he would be stepping away from the program and the age of top NFL Draft prospects opting out of bowl games, the mere thought that Key might become the first potential NFL Draft pick the following season sitting out the entire football season was difficult to completely ignore. Fortunately, especially for LSU and not so much for LSU’s opponents, Key is choosing not to break that barrier at this time.