A guest blog, filed by a current student:
The Hypocrisy of Richard McCormick
When future biographers of Rutgers University turn to write the unhappy chapter pertaining to the presidency of Richard L. McCormick, what words will spring to mind? McCormick’s Presidency might charitably be described as sleazy and dishonest. This man, who acquired his job at Rutgers only by concealing his impending dismissal from the University of Washington, has made his willingness to resort to lies, obfuscation and evasion the hallmark of his tenure.
From his 2003 confession of an affair with a subordinate at the University of Washington – forced out by the impending breaking of the story in the Seattle Times – (it’s worth noting that this “confession” was stage managed by the costly New York PR firm Rubenstein Associates) to the latest scandal of authorizing back-door payments to the even costlier Greg Schiano the President of Rutgers has revealed himself as a man who holds truth and honor in as scant regard as he does academic excellence at the university he oversees.
Here it is instructive to go back to the athletic scandals that accompanied McCormick’s time at the University of Washington. Below is a passage from William Dowling’s book, Confessions of a Spoilsport:
The UW athletics scandals had by now become public. The basketball team had been put on probation for serious recruiting violations. Football coach Rick Neuheisel, already notorious for shady recruiting practices at Colorado, was under investigation for his recruiting at Washington. While that investigation was going on, Neuheisel was fired for having gambled on NCAA athletics. A UW team doctor was revealed to have been supplying athletes with illegal drugs. The regents had refused to renew the contract of the athletic director. Yet what seemed more disturbing were McCormick’s relations with Washington boosters. He had eagerly taken part personally in recruiting football and basketball players, having them brought to the president’s office for a UW sales pitch… He had been investigated by a state ethics commission for flying friends and family, at state expense, to a football game. He had gone to extraordinary lengths to justify Neuheisel’s $1.1 million salary. “To get the very best”, he told the Seattle press, you have to play in the market”. He had assured citizens of Washington that “in Rick Neuheisel, we have the very best”.
It’s worth noting that the extent of the athletic scandals during McCormick’s time at UW still haunt the university today. In January of this year, the Seattle Times ran a scathing and much discussed 5-part series called Victory and Ruin, charting the depths of lawlessness to which the University of Washington Huskies sank under McCormick’s tenure in 2000. That’s right, 8 years later, Richard McCormick’s enthusiastic support of a corruption-riddled athletics program is still making news in Seattle. And for this pedigree, Rutgers last year paid President McCormick over a million dollars, making him the highest paid university president in that nation.
So, with the news fresh off the press that President McCormick, having been once again caught doing shady deals with athletics, is now “appointing a committee of prominent leaders from Rutgers and around the state to conduct a complete and candid review of the [athletics] division’s policies and practices”, what should we think? Does this man’s track record of scandal, duplicity and lies allow him the benefit of the doubt as to whether his committee will be more interested in facts than cover-ups?
Simply put, no it does not. Richard McCormick, himself involved in this unfolding scandal, is the last person who should be allowed to dictate the terms of the investigation into the money-pit that is “big-time” Rutgers athletics. It’s time for this university to stop accepting dishonesty and mediocrity from its senior administrators. If this university needs anything, then that ‘anything’ is honest, transparent, top-class governance. And we’re not going to get that from a man whose time as president of Rutgers has been littered with lies. The first step towards fixing this mess is holding those who created it to account. The sooner this failed presidency is ended, the better.
And by the way, the link to the Seattle Times story is here: