Rutgers Rot

September 14, 2008

The Ledger’s Fran Wood documents the rot that is eating away Rutgers’ academics in this piece.  She writes: “academics are falling at the same time the school is spending millions to upgrade its football program and facilities.”  In the piece she documents — in vivid detail — what happens to a university that has a half billion dollars worth of deferred mainenance.  It isn’t pretty.  She writes: “if a school is willing to indulge in big-time bonding, which is precisely what Rutgers has done for its stadium expansion, you’d think some cooler head would have reminded the school’s board that Rutgers’ raison d’être — i.e., education — should be given a higher priority.”

Meantime, the Gannett central Jersey papers speculate that perhaps Rutgers’ BoG — in its zeal for closed door meetings and secrecy — is violating the state’s Open Meeting Acts.  We don’t know about that — we think the BoG meets in private because it likes to hide the depths of its stupidity and incompetence.  Wouldn’t you?  But then…by that token…perhaps Greedy Greg Schiano’s Stumblers ought to play in private because, despite the millions poured into that “program,” it remains a Big East bottom feeder.

Sigh.

Back to Gannett.  “So many of the university’s decisions of late — specifically those related to sports in general and to big-time football in particular — haven’t exactly been afforded a vigorous or thorough public review or, if they have been discussed at length with the university community, in many cases the belief persists that public opinion was ignored.”

The stadium expansion of course is a prime for instance.  The boosters — for whom the stadium is being expanded — care so little about the program that all they could donate is $90,000…against a $30 million goal.  The team is so bad the season ticket waiting list — which prompted pulling the trigger on the expansion — will evaporate by season’s end.  And yet Rutgers insiders keep talking as though bonding $100+ million with no rational repayment scheme makes sense.  Does Rutgers offer remedial classes in leadership?  

Bottomline, says Gannett, “Rutgers’ ruling body has managed to sow the seeds of outright distrust. “

Indeed.

Which bring us to the Bergen Record’s harsh editorial about athletics at Rutgers.  The Record wants to know why the six Olympic sports were killed — and yet money for football gushes.  It writes: “In recent months it’s become increasingly clear that there are major problems with the funding for the football stadium expansion. The university has also been criticized over other aspects of the football budget, including high salaries for coaches.

In fact, the state comptroller has already begun an investigation into Rutgers’ sports finances, including spending for the stadium expansion. “

Which brings us to the deliberations that led to athletic director Mulcahy III’s agreeing to roughly a $2 million annual pay packet for Greedy Greg — despite the fact that Greedy has a lifetime losing record and even onetime fans now admit he is clueless about coaching.  How many part-time lecturers could be put back on the payroll if Schiano’s pay were cut back to the $250,000, max, that his performance warrants?  How many more classes could be scheduled?  

It is obvious: Mulcahy III needs to be fired, preferably within days.

And exactly that may happen.  Rumors are circulating that Trenton’s warlords are embarrassed about the performance of the Rutgers football team on national TV.  Two blow-out losses have made it untenable for all but the most jocksniffing pols to put any weight behind the stadium expansion.  It will be “delayed,” Mulcahy will “retire,” and the Rutgers stadium will stand empty by the Army game.  You read it all here, as early as March 16th: “Our predictions: there will be a sharp fall-off in the season ticket waiting list (we expect it to evaporate) and, by season end, there will be many rows of empty seats (the 11-22 Army game will be lucky to draw 20,000).”

Now mull on the fans for whom so many dollars are spent by Rutgers. Not only is there the Rutgers Finger Effect, there are loud complaints — by fans! — about other fans doing unspeakable things.  Like urinating on rows of bleacher seats mid-game.  Read it all in this thread.


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.


“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.


Calling Megan Mulcahy

August 11, 2008

Talk about smoking guns.

For those wondering why the NJ Inspector General has been sitting on her hands regarding Schianogate, Mulcahy III, and the rest of the stinky shenanigans surrounding Rutgers’ pursuit of “middling time” but expensive sports, the Star Ledger (in a piece not online alas) offers clarification in the person of one Megan Mulcahy, a $105,000 state employee who serves as — drum roll please — chief of staff to the Inspector General, the Ledger reports.

Ms. Mulcahy of course is a daughter of Mulcahy III, the lifelong Trenton hack who apparently believes that the family that works together, works together.

Per the Inspector General’s website, this office’s brief is this: “The Office of the Inspector General is dedicated to seeking out waste, mismanagement and fraud in government spending and ensuring the accountability and integrity of all state agencies. This office will: review procurement and public contracts; receive complaints; and perform investigations to make certain that programs are in compliance with State laws.”

Wouldn’t you have thought the Rutgers stadium expansion boondoggle qualified on multiple levels: mismanagement, waste, and who knows what worse has been hidden under the Schianogate big top. The Nelligan Sports contract alone is worth a look by the Inspector General but, oh, wait, isn’t that the deal that involves employment of a Mulcahy son, Robert J?

So, we guess this NJ Inspector General won’t be looking into any of the madcap spending and dealmaking revolving around Rutgers sports.

Sigh.

How many more Mulcahy III offspring are on the public dole? It’s a sincere question. Readers, please write with info.

Today is a short blog. Use the time we’ve saved you to plunge into The Soprano State: New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption.


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