Why Peter Drucker Would Clean House at Rutgers

Rick Wartzman
Rick Wartzman

In his latest column for Forbes online, Drucker Institute Executive Director Rick Wartzman examines what he calls “the God-awful mess that Rutgers University has made in selecting leaders for its sports programs.”

The latest scandal: Since being hired in mid-May as the university’s new athletic director, Julie Hermann has faced allegations that she berated her players when she coached the women’s volleyball team at the University of Tennessee in the mid-1990s. This comes after Rutgers had to fire its men’s basketball coach, Mike Rice, for shoving and kicking his players, as well as taunting them with homophobic slurs and other vulgar language.

“The big question, of course, is how Rutgers could have missed all of this,” Wartzman writes. “Part of the answer, it seems, is not very complicated: The university’s search committee rushed the process and failed to undertake proper due diligence.”

In all of this, Wartzman adds, Rutgers ignored one of Peter Drucker’s “key rules for making proper people decisions: thoroughly vetting candidates with a range of folks who’ve worked with them in the past.”

Wartzman continues: “One of Drucker’s favorite examples in this regard was Hermann Abs, the former head of Deutsche Bank, who ‘picked more successful chief executives in recent times than anyone else,’ according to Drucker, ‘and personally chose most of the top-level managers who pulled off the postwar German ‘economic miracle.’ Abs’s common-sense secret: ‘He checked out each of them first with three or four of the person’s former bosses or colleagues.’”

In the end, says Wartzman, “I am confident that Drucker would have no qualms at this point: He’d dump Hermann and [University President Robert] Barchi, who (while still highly regarded by many and viewed as indispensible by some) has presided over this series of scandals. Simply put, these are not the leaders that Rutgers needs at this time.”