Bill Howard: Impersonation Alert!!!

August 29, 2008

Blow the whistle loud for the Rev. William Howard, chair of the Rutgers Board of Governors.  Some nefarious evil-doer out there in the Internet is circulating two emails that purport to be the writings of the Rev. Howard but, surely, they are too dull-witted to have been penned by so important a personage in the Rutgers hierarchy.  Tell us you didn’t write them, Billy!

The first of the two blatantly wrong-headed emails is dated August 27th and it purports to be an attempt at an op-ed by the Rev. Howard.  We’ll include bits of it here because it’s doubtful any newspaper will run something this, well, boring and self-serving.  The author — we know it is not the Rev. Howard, so we will use the neutral “author” —  claims:

* It was…disturbing to read board member George Zoffinger’s recent op-ed, which impugned his peers and all but accused them of being careless and fiscally irresponsible

We hope Zoffinger in fact accused them (no “all but” about it) because they are careless and irresponsible.

This soon is followed by a whole bunch of 5th grade mud-slinging at George Zoffinger…and then the author moves in for a summary:

* My colleagues on the board agree that the university’s academic quality and reputation have improved during the same period that we have succeeded in athletics.  We agree that the university’s athletic program has brought credit not only to Rutgers but also to our entire state.

Uh…excuse us…it’s wonderful that you all agree that academic quality has improved but it hasn’t. It is shocking — and indeed does it not prove Zoffinger’s point that you are dimwitted toadies? — to claim that academics are up when by any objective measure Rutgers continues to slip in the rankings.  Now tied with Texas A & M, Rutgers is well on its way to being the next Louisville.  And that is not bringing “credit” to the state.  Were you operating in the private sector, the foreclosure papers would be stamped on your foreheads and the sale on the courthouse steps would be in progress.

* The people of New Jersey should know that their state university’s governing board members are talented men and women who recognize the stake that the people of our state have in Rutgers‘ well-being, and they strive to honor the public trust in every decision they make.

Really?  Could have fooled us.  Truth is, we still think you are jocksniffing cretins and, as for talent, it’s well hidden on the BoG.

Impersonation instance #2 is a document — also dated 8/27 — that purports to be an email from “Bill” Howard (doesn’t the intimacy make you go fuzzy?) to George Zoffinger, where “Bill” seems to want Zoffinger to resign from the BoG because Zoffinger has hurt Bill’s feelings by suggesting that Bill and his cronies on the board are incompetent wretches.  [You go, Zoffinger! Pardon our interruption.]

But the statement that jumps out in this email is the following:

* At our September 10th Special Board meeting, we expect the president will provide the Board with detailed information on all the issues that have been precipitated by the success of our football program. And later in the fall, the president’s special review committee on these matters is expected to issue its report. I presume a program of corrective action, if needed, will be aggressively pursued following these events.

The “success” of the football program?  A Big East bottom feeder? But, wait, “Bill” expects that Slick McCormick will actually present a plan that makes sense regarding paying for the expansion and “Bill” further expects the president’s special review committee will issue a report that fixes all ills.  We know no human being could be as dumb as this “Bill” pretends to be because every sentient being inside New Jersey knows all McCormick and Mulcahy are trying to do is cover up, cover up, cover up.  There are no plans, reports are whitewashes at best, and all this is obvious as the Trentonization of Rutgers steams forward.

That’s why we have this impersonator cornered. The chair of the Rutgers board of governors could not be this dimwitted and this much of a lackey, could he?


The $100 Million Misunderstanding

August 26, 2008

Buried in an otherwise turgid George Zofflinger op-ed in the Bergen Record is this zinger:

“‘The stadium expansion project is being financed entirely with borrowed funds. It was rushed into, with incomplete plans and a $30 million funding gap. We now find the costs are escalating, and we are forced to make significant cuts in the project.

Also, there is an increase in what we are borrowing, from $72 million to $100 million. New Jersey public entities are in a league of their own when it comes to piling on the debt.”

Read that again.

Someone should be kissing us because we certainly are getting screwed.

Because the drive for $30 million in private contributions failed and failed some more – either there is scant interest in Rutgers football or the fans there are are poor because, ring doorbells as Seatbelt Corzine did, he apparently raised no more than a few empty beer bottles.  The vast bulk of purported Rutgers fans shut their wallets tight and does not that say something about the depth of fan support? — Rutgers now is going to borrow the whole $100 million, pace Zoffinger.

That makes no accounting sense.  None whatsoever.

Fuzzy math was required to attempt to show that this stadium expansion would be self-funding on a $72 million note (with the other $30 million coming in the form of those private contributions that did not materialize).  You cannot increase the borrowing by 40% and still insist this stadium will pay for itself.

It will not.  NJ taxpayers and Rutgers students will be forced to pay for Mulcahy’s Folly — just as we have been saying for months.

This whole borrowing scheme is vividly reminiscent of the cockamamie loans (piggybacks) that have helped trigger the national mortgage-housing crisis — but at least now everybody should know this kind of scheme is doomed to fail.

It is time to pull the plug on Mulcahy’s Folly.  We do not need this $100 million extravagance and apparently very, very few genuinely want it.

We demand to see a financial statement/business plan that shows neither public monies nor student monies will be needed to pay for Mulcahy’s Folly.

Rutgers students: Demand a halt to the stadium expansion…or hold your silence when the next round of tuition increases is imposed as the university scrambles to pay for Mulcahy’s Folly.

Rutgers alums: Hold on to your contributions to Rutgers because no matter where you want your money to go it will probably wind up helping to pay for Mulcahy’s Folly…unless our voices are loud enough to stop Phase 2 before the school finalizes its commitment.


McCormick 64, Rutgers Students 0

August 22, 2008

It’s official: Rutgers now ranks as the 64th university in the country, tied with Texas A & M and behind such powerhouse institutions of learning as Clemson, Pitt (#58), Georgia (#58), and Pepperdine (#56). That is per the newly released US News & World Report ratings.

That is a stunning five spot drop from the prior rankings. It also is a complete retreat from the Bloustein-era goal of making Rutgers “the Berkeley of the east” when, as recently as 1997, Rutgers ranked 45 in the nation.

Meantime, new rankings from Forbes peg Rutgers at a stomach-churning 469. That’s below Eastern Carolina, Azusa Pacific, and a pack of colleges you probably have never heard of. By Forbes’ reckoning, Rutgers is one of the nation’s worst colleges. Rutgers is ahead of the College of St. Benedict, tho.

The collapse of educational standards on the Banks in the Slick McCormick era is just about absolute, as the university and New Jersey’s taxpayers have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into football and the return on this investment is a bottom feeder football squad and a university that has fallen far from the top rank of publics. It’s a zero sum game. Put a dollar into football and it has to come from somewhere and that somewhere has been academics. The proof is how far Rutgers has sunk in the academic rankings.

Way to go Slick McCormick, you are well along your goal of transforming the once proud public Ivy into the Louisville of the north!

Just the other day Slick and Mulcahy III issued yet another of their self-serving press statements that concluded with this lovely thought, “Academics and athletics can reinforce each other, which is why Rutgers remains committed to excellence in both.”

Right. Call us when you see either. All we see is mounting mediocrity as the Trentonization of Rutgers moves into its final acts. Who needs top professors or students as long as there are plenty of jobs for political hangers-on? LaRue, Harris, Florio, et. al. — Arthur Kamin, onetime Rutgers Board of Trustee chair, has his finger pointed squarely at you. He writes:

Those jobs may be just the tip of the iceberg. The state and internal investigators should determine what other patronage positions exist, how they were filled and what political influence may have been used to secure employment for the bureaucrats looking to keep their state pensions and perks in force.

The probes of Mulcahy and the athletics department offer an opportunity for investigators to closely examine the political culture that has had a negative impact on Rutgers and other higher education institutions in New Jersey. The question is whether they’re up to the challenge.

Students in New Jersey: our advice is to go elsewhere to university. We no longer are comfortable recommending Rutgers to anybody who wants a collegiate learning experience. New Jersey’s budget crisis isn’t going away. Tuition will continue to go up at Rutgers, at the very time the university keeps cutting the academics to make up for dwindling state support. That is a perfect storm of scholastic ruination and you don’t need a Weatherman to know which way this ill wind blows.


Trenton Lowers Boom on Rutgers

August 21, 2008

Trenton has gotten the message — the Mulcahy III/Slick McCormick regime is all about lack of accountability and waste — and now Trenton just may want to see changes, pronto. That’s why Assembly Republican Budget Officer Joseph Malone is calling for full-blown hearings into spending by Rutgers Athletics aka the Schianogate Scandal of hidden payments, secret cash, and off the book transactions. Listen to these ominous words from PolitickerNJ: For years Rutgers officials have come before the budget committee and complained about being short-changed in the state budget process,” said Malone, R-Burlington, Ocean, Monmouth and Mercer. “Now we learn that the university is not even keeping track of money that was coming into the school.”

Malone goes on: “Mr. Mulcahy should be brought before these legislative committees and he should explain how much money was being handled off the books, where that money was being spent, and why that money was not being incorporated in the school’s budget,” Malone said. “Students at Rutgers who have been paying higher tuition costs, and state taxpayers who have been funding the university, deserve to have these questions answered immediately.”

Amen, how many more of our dollars will be siphoned off to prop up Mulcahy III’s failing sports “empire” (in his mind, at least; we’d probably call it a landfill and be done with it). Mulcahy III has always lost money, always will, and we the hard-working citizenry of New Jersey are always left to pick up the pieces. Is that fair?

Some of those pieces will be from cost overruns incurred in the Rutgers Stadium construction mania. In the Star Ledger, Margolin and Sherman report that a frenzy of last-minute overtime will add at least $300,000 to the construction tab — which is tantamount to yet another thumb twisted into the public eye because Mulcahy III and Slick McCormick have yet to figure out exactly where they are getting the $100+ million needed to build out even a diminished, flaccid stadium expansion.

Alas, we cannot expect much enthusiasm for honest inquiry into wasteful spending on Rutgers athletics over on the Senate side because Three Ring Codey – aka Garbage with Legs — presides over that aptly named chamber. Codey of course cares only about acquiring a fourth ring to squeeze onto his fat little fingers and if cost overruns there are, really, who cares? For Three Ring, this will always be the Soprano State.

Rutgers, incidentally, has drawn a line in the stadium sand: “Phase 1 will be ready for the Sept. 1 season opener versus Fresno State,” Miranda said, according to the Ledger’s reporting. If that turns out untrue, even supporters of the Mulcahy III reign (would we call them jockstraps? wannabe jockstraps?) need admit that this administration is characterized by Nixonian level lying. To our ears, Mulcahy III approaches every public utterance as an exercise in what his scattered gray matter views as “creative” talking. I.e., lie, lie, lie until they go away.

Meantime, New Jersey’s debt last year — despite Seatbelt Corzine‘s oft repeated promise to get government spending under control — crept up another $2 billion, lifting the total owed to $36.5 billion, per this Star Ledger piece. With citizens screaming for tax relief and a gubernatorial election on the ballot next year, where do you think Rutgers’ funding is headed? Indeed, expect more cuts — more gutting of the academic side as Rutgers continues its plummet into becoming the Louisville of the North.

Heard among the whispers: people who claim to have gotten an early look at the upcoming US NEWS & WORLD REPORT rankings say that Rutgers has tumbled five more spots, from #59 to #64. The miasma of mediocrity thickens as the limbo rock echoes between Slick McCormick’s ears: how low can we go?

Current Rutgers students: do you really think you are getting value for your tuition dollars? Hah! The joke, alas, is on you. Hah, hah!


Blowing the Whistle on Rutgers

August 20, 2008

The Star Ledger’s Margolin and Sherman stab another knife into Rutgers’ leadership with this expose, Rutgers’ fiscal practices were critiqued in internal audit.

They write: “Months before revelations of hidden deals and no-bid contracts sparked two investigations, Rutgers University auditors were warning that no one was watching the money flooding into the school’s athletic department.

A confidential internal audit issued nearly six months ago criticized the department’s fiscal controls — including hundreds of thousands of dollars in off-the-books spending that never appeared in the Rutgers budget.”

Even internal auditors apparently could smell the stench of Schianogate — the profligate spending, the lack of transparency, the secret stashes of cash, the utter indifference to public opinion. But their report was ignored.

Margolin and Sherman go on: Auditors found the athletic department subsidized the travel costs of boosters and other VIPs who accompanied the Scarlet Knights on charter flights to post-season bowl games the past three years, at a time when the university was hiking tuition and cutting academic budgets. It also discovered that the department understated its expenses for those games in reports to the administration and concluded the athletic department lacked the ability to collect and reliably report critical financial information “to the president, CFO, the board and the public.”

So, Mulcahy III lied about the expenses he incurred (how many times have we said that before?) and now we learn that at the very time students are getting socked with ever higher tuition and fees for a diminishing education, Mulcahy III did not hesitate in showering his “VIPs” (Three Ring Codey, is that you?) with freebies, perks and more.

Read the full expose here.

The AP, meantime, has piled on, with its story, Report: Auditors warned of Rutgers Athletics Troubles. The AP lead is this: “Rutgers University auditors warned of financial troubles at the school’s athletics department, months before revelations of possible mismanagement sparked two investigations, according to a published report.”

Literally dozens of newspapers across the country now have run with this story, bringing more shame, more disgrace to Rutgers, despite Slick McCormick’s continued chant that football will bring good things to the university.

How much more shame does Mulcahy III have to dump on Rutgers before he is terminated? Ditto for Slick McCormick.

The stench of Schianogate is turning a colonial university into a garbage heap of jockstraps.


“Codey’s an idiot,” et. al.

August 19, 2008

“Codey’s an idiot, and you can print that,” said Zoffinger. That’s the best line in this write-up about Zofflinger, by Mulcahy III publicist (oops, apparently he claims to be a journalist) Rick Malwitz. Certainly, we think Three Ring Codey is a flaming idiot as well as a poster boy for the Trenton culture of thuggery and theft that has transformed the Garden State into one big patronage pit. Codey is garbage with legs and, yes, Mr. Zofflinger, an idiot in the bargain.

Meantime, the GOP in Piscataway is pointing blaming fingers at the town’s Democratic mayor, claiming that passes he got that allowed entry into the Presidential box at Rutgers football games constitute a kind of payola. Our take on this: get real. We cannot imagine there exists a soul that desires to sup with Slick McCormick. The mayor may be bent, but his Presidential passes are no evidence of anything other than a willingness to waste autumn Saturdays with dreary company.

And then there is Fran Wood’s piece from 8-17, “Rutgers Shows Disrespect for the Public” (not online). Amen. Wood laments: “a lack of transparency has permeated the stadium project and the football
program in general.”

Wood adds: “In a recent oped in this paper, Rutgers athletic director Robert Mulcahy insisted stadium expansion is going just as planned. Others say that it is running behind, that they are rethinking future phases, and that a projected $30 million in public donations seems a pipe dream. Could it be that some of the prime movers still think we taxpayers can’t handle the truth?”

Indeed, because Mulcahy III also claims a chimerical $5 million profit earned by football in 2007 which is an outright lie. Let us see an audited p & l statement for Rutgers football. One that takes into account such things as a use fee for the stadium, grounds maintenance, gameday security — charge them all appropriately to football and what happens to the “profit?” Losses are the norm in Division I football and claiming Rutgers is in the black presupposes a very stupid audience (and, yes, we know the boosters have jumped on this and run it up their wobbly flag pole…but didn’t we say something about stupid?).

And there are closing thoughts from onetime Rutgers administrator Norman McNatt. Here is his letter to the New York Times:

To the Editor:

As a Rutgers alumnus and former administrator, I found your editorial both sad and enraging.

You correctly identify a failure of leadership at Rutgers and the shared responsibility of the State Legislature. But the failure reaches further than the president’s office, and the Legislature’s complicity has been compounded by its long-term neglect of the academic needs of Rutgers.

Two Rutgers presidents have essentially abdicated direction of athletics to athletics boosters on the boards of trustees and governors and to an athletic director obsessed by a chimera. Four of the nine members of the new athletics review committee set up by the university’s president, Richard L. McCormick, are current or former members of the Rutgers governing boards. The committee’s findings are all too predictable.

Rutgers, once a proud private university, was co-opted by the State of New Jersey in 1956 to become the state university. But the once-substantial public support promised for Rutgers has steadily fallen.

Big-time athletics, touted to offset financing cuts, has cost Rutgers its academic stature. Twenty years ago, six graduate programs were ranked in the top 10 nationally. Today, only one is in that distinguished company.

Norman McNatt
Princeton Junction, N.J.


Meet the Boosters

August 14, 2008

In an effort to familiarize the larger world with Rutgers booster culture, we will begin linking to images of typical fans. Such as:

* This guy

* Let us look at these

* And them

* Three Ring Himself in fine form.

* The First Fan.

* Not a fan but, obviously, a towering intellect and a collegiate role model.

* Another MacArthur fellow in disguise.

Booster pride of course bubbles that the Rutgers home crowd is ranked one of the five “nastiest” in the nation, per ESPN Magazine.

Maybe that ranking is richly deserved.  Ask the Naval Academy.

* Nasty RU fans in action.

* RU fans celebrating after a win.

* More celebrations.

Have a favorite image or video of Rutgers boosters being boosters? Send it to us and we’ll post it here.


Fighting the Sleaze: a Guest Blog

August 14, 2008

They are obviously worried over at Old Queens. Yesterday, the Department of Media Relations posted a second defense of the football program at Rutgers, barely a week after its first attempt. The statement reads as a laundry list of distortions and falsehoods, compiled by one Greg Trevor, whose job seem to center on the creation of PR sleaze to cover the tracks of the McCormick administration. As contemptible as the document is, it is important that its claims are refuted. Below I list claims made in the document and address them one by one. I will be forwarding this to the hapless Mr. Trevor, in the hope that his conscience bothers him a little by now.

Rutgers has long been regarded as an excellent public research university. Now the university is gaining an athletics reputation to match its academic accomplishments.

Rutgers has indeed long been regarded as an excellent public research university, at least until the last decade or so. In 1997, shortly after joining the Big East and “big time” sports, Rutgers was ranked 45th among American universities by USNWR, the most influential college ranking system. Now, it shares the 59th spot with the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Georgia. In eleven years, the same period in which the pursuit of “excellence” in big time sports been a priority, Rutgers has plummeted 14 positions in academic ranking. This drop in academic standing is measured against the expenditure on “big time” sports during this period of over $100 million. In chasing “excellence” in sports, Rutgers has rerouted enormous sums of money from academics to athletics, resulting in an ongoing academic decline measured in larger class sizes, decaying learning facilities, and fewer ranked departments. Tellingly, Rutgers increasingly cannot offer scholarship packages to top students even while it increases its funding of athletic scholarships. Simply, in pursuing big time sports on a limited budget, Rutgers has weakened its academic mission.

Rutgers is committed to a successful and accountable athletics program. The recent success of the athletics program is a major point of pride for New Jersey and the university. The university’s national visibility has risen dramatically.

Certainly, the students chanting “f**k navy”, made the papers and gathered Rutgers free publicity, but not of the kind the apologists for football like to discuss. Beyond such incidents, it shouldn’t have to be pointed out that Rutgers’ sacrifice of its academic standards in pursuit of “pride” supposedly derived from football is a betrayal of the university’s purpose and mission.

Coach Greg Schiano is recognized as one of the best football coaches in the nation.

Only by those at Rutgers that sign off on his massive salary. He has a lifetime losing record and has never even won the Big East.

“RUTGERS’ ATHLETICS PROGRAM IS EXCEPTIONALLY INCLUSIVE”

It is not. Six sports have been reduced to club status to pay for the ever-growing demands of football.

Rutgers saved more than $700,000 from reduced expenses associated with the transition of the six varsity sports to club status, even after increasing women’s athletics scholarships.

This is highly dubious in itself, and dismissed by Board of Governors member George Zoffinger, among others. Even if it were true, the money saved is less than the amount Rutgers will pay Kent State for a single football match in 2012. This gutting of some of Rutgers oldest and most proud sporting traditions to fund the football money-pit is in itself an indictment. That the McCormick administration would rather use $750,000 to fly in a football team than provide opportunities for scores of real student athletes to compete and better themselves, reveals the talk about “inclusivity” to be an utter mistruth.

RUTGERS STADIUM EXPANSION

The expansion project is self-supporting – no taxpayer or tuition dollars are being used.

Rutgers can neither know or guarantee this, and therefore, this claim is simply PR rubbish. Rutgers has borrowed $72 million in the hope that the new stadium will continue to sell out, even with inflated ticket prices, for 15 more years. This gamble is set across the backdrop of the current stadium being undersold far more times than it has sold out. Simply put, the McCormick administration borrowing on pure hope. If Rutgers cannot meet the steep debt service on the stadium, the money to meet payments will obviously have to be taken from other areas within the university. Like the construction budget, or academics. This habit of making claims of self-sufficiency with zero supporting evidence is central to the PR spin that the McCormick administration practices in its attempts to protect the football program.

The university will continue to manage the project responsibly and make changes to ensure it is completed without exceeding the project budget approved by the Rutgers Board of Governors.

All evidence points in the other directions, and the administration’s refusal to provide details of the budget should give even the most gullible cause for concern. According to the Star Ledger, the first phase of construction is already $18 million over budget, and the $30 million that was supposed to be raised by Jon Corzine is, in the words of Raymond Lesniak, unlikely to top $10 million. Here, any administration cognizant of its responsibilities to the fee-paying students and the New Jersey taxpayer would call halt to assess the situation. President McCormick has offered no plan to the university community to bridge this disastrous shortfall in capital funds, and Robert Mulcahy seems intent to build on and let taxpayers and students pick up the tab. Conceived in secret, voted on without any meaningful consultation with the university community, and seemingly proceeding without any fiscal accountability, the expansion project has been an unmitigated disaster.

To go into further details of, for example, the utterly specious reasons advanced for the “beneficial” relationship with Nelligan Sports Marketing, will require a separate piece. However, it is enough to say that the desperate spin that the Rutgers PR department attempts here is yet more evidence that this university is utterly contemptuous of the very community it is supposed to serve. President McCormick has made dishonesty, evasion and concealment a hallmark of his time as President. That his office goes to yet-greater lengths to try and convince the community that the secrecy and scandal that accompanies the athletics buildup at Rutgers somehow equates to “accountability” should, unfortunately, come as no surprise.

Submitted by A Grumpy Alum


“A Media Wasteland”

August 13, 2008

You look at the Schianogate circus –the hidden payments, the nepotism, the construction mismanagement and you know there is worse, much worse, but you wonder why despite recent valiant efforts, particularly in the Star Ledger and the Bergen Record, so much goes unreported.

For an answer, read this week’s New York Observer, which documents the demise of journalistic resources in New Jersey. Bureaus closed, reporters laid off, investigations that cannot be funded. The state could be stolen and there might be no one left standing to report on the heist.

Even Three Ring Codey expresses dismay about the collapse of journalism in the Garden State. (He reads! Who knew?)

All of which puts us in mind of this paragraph from The Soprano State:

“Sometimes people joke that New Jersey’s sky-high taxes are almost justified by pointing to the legislature — a collection of misfits, self-serving loons, and boss-created puppets — and asking, ‘Where else could you have so much entertainment in one place?'”

That book, incidentally, has page after page documenting how UMDNJ was little more than a trough for swilling political hacks. Of course the Rutgers community long reassured itself, not us, we are no UMDNJ.

Are you still confident saying that? With the political featherbedding in the upper reaches of the McCormick Administration? The fuzzy math accounting beloved by Mulcahy III? The truck-loads of secret cash for Greedy Greg Schiano?

We know we will no longer insist Rutgers is any different at all. It is well on its way to becoming just another New Jersey public institution. In fact that is not true. There is no becoming about it. Rutgers now is home to “misfits, self-serving loons, and boss-created puppets” — and right there is a New Jersey tragedy.


Rutgers pegged for 7th in Big East

August 12, 2008

We said it first here.

CBS Sportsline now is piling on with its gloomy pick.

How many millions more must Mulcahy III waste before sobriety sets in on the Banks? Rutgers football is mediocre. On its better days. Period.

Rutgers fans go berserk as they attempt to battle off reality here.

We hold to our prediction: the waiting list will evaporate and, by the Army game, the stands will be half empty.


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