“Blame it on McCormick”

September 4, 2008

That’s what this article says.  It goes on: “Many fans felt ill-will about the loss blaming the administration for the lack of a good football team.

Many are saying Rutger’s President Richard McCormick spent way too much on Stadium expansion. The stadium expanison was a $102 million stadium expansion project, which has increased the stadium’s seating capacity to nearly 56,000.

Some feel that the president should have spent it on Rutger’s team.”

We’re not sure we agree with any of that but we do find it funny because now Slick McCormick and Mulcahy III are getting blamed for the inadequacies of a football team that is inadequate as vividly demonstrated by the trouncing by Fresno State.

Even homer Tom Luicci in the Ledger dissed the program:

“Teddy Dellaganna was solid in his debut as Rutgers’ punter yesterday.

There. That pretty much covers all.

Well, except for the record Rutgers set: the fastest any team has ever deflated a promising season.”

Greedy Greg Schiano gets the third highest base pay in college football, per USA Today (sort by salary) and yet he is a coach with exactly one quality win in the past year.  About the only big win in recent memory has been at the bargaining table with Mulcahy III, who really oughtn’t leave house without a fool’s cap on his head.

Face it: Rutgers without Ray Rice is a very mediocre team that plays boring football.

Even rabid fans are ripping into Schiano; booster message boards have devolved into civil wars pitting the pro- and anti- sides in spitting contests.

ESPN’s Ivan Maisel has this to say: “Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano produced the sizzle, thanks to a 9-0 start in 2006. He has led the Scarlet Knights out of what had been a spectacularly unsuccessful existence….

Since that start in 2006, when Rutgers climbed to No. 7 in the polls, Schiano has been courted by Alabama, Miami and Michigan. And since that start, Rutgers’ record has been 10-8, including 1-5 against ranked teams. Those records include the 24-7 loss at home to Fresno State on Monday.”

Watch for worse.  This is a team and a coach that, experts agree, will come in 7th in the 8 team Big East.  And that is a $2 million man?  That is a product that warrants a $100+ million stadium expansion?  Investors in stadium bonds ought to ask Mulcahy III to throw in fool’s caps for them with purchase.  They will need the hat when the half-empty stadium goes belly up on the repayment plan.

In the Targum, alumnus Josh Ontell (onetime class president), writes: “big time athletics has bought Rutgers a whole lot of nothing. But the real shame is that the money wasted could have been used to improve Rutgers’ infrastructure or boost its miniscule academic budget. Rutgers has half a billion dollars in deferred maintenance. Staff members are being laid off. Eight hundred course sections were cut. It seems everywhere you look Rutgers is hemorrhaging cash. But we always seem to have enough money for the football program.”

Indeed, a little music for McCormick and Mulcahy to enjoy as their season of discontent worsens.

Now laugh at Sheneman’s skewering of RU leadership in this Thursday funny.

Remind us: did McCormick and Mulcahy III say anything about turning the school into a statewide laughingstock?

With them driving this bus, here is the ride we can expect.


Scrutinizing Rutgers Football

September 2, 2008

Now the AP has moved a story about the Schianogate scandals that threaten to destroy what little reputation Rutgers has left.  The reporter quotes Professor Wm. Dowling: “Rutgers is well on the way to becoming what students call a school of last resort,” said William C. Dowling, a professor of English. “That is death to a school of Rutgers’ history, stature and tradition. And sports have been entirely responsible for the damage.”

Ouch.  And it gets worse.  Dozens of newspapers across the country have picked up the AP story, where they read this: “critics note that Rutgers’ place in the U.S. News and World Report college rankings has been slipping. In the latest edition, it was 24th among public universities, down from 16th in 1998.”

Ouch again.  The more money that goes into football, the less is left for academics and the proof of that is in the steady rating decline during the Slick McCormick-Mulcahy III era of sports first.

Meantime, and despite the many millions spent on football, Rutgers opened its season yesterday with a loss characterized by clueless play and clueless coaching.  The Ledger’s Steve Politi nicely sums up how bad the afternoon was here.  He writes: “those $650 seats in the luxury suites might be landing on eBay in record numbers, because unless something changes, this season is going nowhere.”

McCormick and Mulcahy III repeatedly tell us bigtime football will bring good press to Rutgers.  Indeed.  Rutgers will kick itself in the morning.

As Paul Franklin wrote in Gannett, “This is a program that is supposed to be on the way up, a program that plans on buying so it no longer has to rent. The rent was due Monday. How embarrassing.”

Which brings us back to the reckless, foolhardy, stupid stadium expansion where another $100 million, give or take, apparently will be poured into building 14,000 new seats which no one will want. We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again, Rutgers Stadium will stand half-empty for the Army game as fan dissatisfaction erupts into booing and widespread rejection of an inferior sports product – albeit an expensive product that shows little payback.  As the elder Richard McCormick suggested to the New York Times 10 years ago, this is no place for small time college football. “Rutgers could have trouble making money on sports because of its location, said Richard McCormick, the university historian. With the New York Giants, the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles nearby, New Jersey residents are less likely to attend college football games, he said.”

Meantime, Class of 1970 alumnus Doug Remer (a Florida reverend) has a poignant look at the cut Olympic sports in today’s Targum.  Read it for a glimpse of what Rutgers could be, should be.


Stop Hiding the Financial Truth About College Athletics

May 19, 2008

Stunning” — that is Indian University professor Murray Sperber’s pithy summation of the depth of the financial losses associated with college athletics, per the recent NCAA document, “2004-06 NCAA Revenue and Expenses of Division I Intercollegiate Athletics Program Report.” The fantasy is over: big-time college sports lose big-time money. Period. End of story. And that hurts education. As Sperber writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “The reality, which the NCAA now acknowledges, is that institutional subsidies for intercollegiate athletics usually come out of funds that could go to academic purposes.”

Says Sperber: “The seas of athletics-department red ink are growing as fast as the oceans are rising from melting polar ice caps.”

Question: why hasn’t Rutgers reported on exactly how much money it loses on football?

Why are these numbers top secret?

There is no doubt that Rutgers has lost tens of millions of dollars on football in the past two decades — but are the losses even steeper?

As a first step in bringing transparency to Rutgers finances, McCormick-Mulcahy owe it to the university community — and to the state’s taxpayers who are left holding this expensive sack — to honestly report the scope of the losses on football.

Step two is to present a coherent plan for ending those losses — but our advice is, don’t hold your breath on that one. There is no plan. Not even a dream. The losses are forever…just as Rutgers’ academics continue to plummet.

Thanks to a reader for sending up a pointer to Sperber’s column. Tips are appreciated. Send them here.


No $ for Art, Plenty for Football

May 3, 2008

Tell us what is right with this picture.  Ledger columnist Mark Di Ionno writes that the Corzine budget may cut arts funding 100% in many cases — but then there is the case of Rutgers football, a money-losing enterprise that aspires to mediocrity and for it the checks are blank and John Q citizen is simply forced to sign.  Rutgers football loses upwards of $3 million every year and there is no end in sight.  Even President McCormick admits the likelihood of football turning a profit is slim to none: “We’re not doing this to make money,” McCormick told the Bergen Record.

Even if the reckless, cockamamie stadium expansion manages to happen, that won’t change a thing. Every dime brought in by the new seats would be needed to pay off the bonds sold to finance the project.

And then there are arts.  Last year, New Jersey awarded some $25 million to various arts groups and to fund municipal arts projects.  This is not money that is wasted.  $2 billion in economic activity resulted, per Di Ionno.

That all looks to end in Corzine’s austerity budget.

What economic good comes from Rutgers football?  Certainly it benefits Coach Schiano — now New Jersey’s highest paid public employee, on the basis of a lifetime losing record.  But who else is coming out a winner?

Not Rutgers students who, this fall, will see more classes cut and more teachers fired as Rutgers digests yet more cuts to academic budgets.

But still the money gushes on football.

Cui bono?

And so we wonder: what is right with this picture?


“Ball Fumbled on Stadium”

April 30, 2008

Now the Asbury Park Press weighs in with a hard-hitting indictment of the thinking (rather the lack thereof) behind the stadium expansion. Read the editorial, entitled “Ball Fumbled on Stadium Expansion,” here.

The APP takes particular umbrage over something we have been harping on for months: “Rutgers shouldn’t have brought in a single backhoe until the private pledges were in hand,” says the editorial. The $30 million in private contributions is still missing.

And yet the construction — overseen by a contractor that just was fired from other public jobs — is rolling merrily forward, propelled it seems by a jock-sniffing Panglossian stupidity that has overwhelmed Old Queens.

The APP makes the second newspaper in as many days to editorialize against the reckless stadium expansion.

Watch for more voices to speak up against Mulcahy’s Folly.


“Unsportsmanlike Conduct!”

April 29, 2008

Kudos to the DAILY RECORD newspaper for editorially calling the Rutgers Stadium expansion what it is: a flagrant foul against the university’s students and NJ taxpayers. As the Record states: “It’s a shame that we can’t throw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct and send the project back 15 yards.” Indeed. Read the full editorial here, and know that — as the local recession deepens and taxpayers grow more angry about a government that is hideously wasteful — this stadium expansion will loom as an indelible symbol of how Rutgers’ elites are hopelessly out of touch. This is a state that last November shot down a perfectly sound initiative to fund stem cell research, but the jock-sniffers in Old Queens and on the BoG did not get the message that the citizenry is fed up with blank check government. You could not ask for a better for-instance of out-of-control public spending than this headlong dash to spend $100+ million on a stadium in the absence of both the money and a quality football team that will fill the extra seats. The one saving aspect is that it won’t be long before we get the pleasure of watching McCormick and Mulcahy do the Trenton version of a perp walk as their careers are crushed by a stadium that sits half empty Saturday after Saturday.

Memo to Joe Cryan: this is the hearing you have dreamed about. Lights, cameras, action — and a roomful of mumbling, inarticulate Rutgers bureaucrats who cannot possibly justify their reckless stadium gambit.

Incidentally, there is quite funny caterwauling by boosters in this Rivals thread which attacks the Record and this thread which jumps to the defense of the much troubled stadium expansion contractor.


Another Stadium Disaster

April 28, 2008

How troubled is Gilbane, the contractor hired by Rutgers to build the $100+ million stadium expansion? Bad enough that the New Jersey Schools Development Authority in February fired Gilbane from some 22 construction projects, according to reporting by the Targum. Targum adds that NJSDA is preparing to file suit against Gilbane.

Gilbane already has a history also of New Jersey projects plagued with cost overruns. The NJSDA complaints revolve around shoddy work.

Predictably — sadly — university president Dick McCormick is quoted by Targum saying: “We’re very satisfied with Gilbane.” Sigh. We suppose it’s too much to expect McCormick to tell the truth: the stadium expansion plan is moronic and we should shut it down tout suite.

Incidentally, this is not the only news about Gilbane. In Rhode Island legislators are saying the award of a contract at the University of Rhode Island is both riskier and more expensive than necessary. That story is here. In Falmouth, MA, a high school renovation apparently has been plagued by problems — read about it here.

The Star Ledger, meantime, weighs in with this report on Gilbane, headlined: Report: Rutgers Stadium Contract Had Been Fired From Public School Job.

The AP picks up this ball and runs with it, in a story that says the Schools Development Authority is suing Gilbane for $13 million.

McCormick-Mulcahy had better hope that state political powerbroker Joe Cryan — who already is irked by corruption and waste at Rutgers — does not decide to hold hearings into the football stadium expansion which, increasingly, resembles a stereotypical New Jersey boondoggle. As the Gannett chain reported: “It is the height of hypocrisy for colleges to cry poverty while state watchdogs are printing page after page of evidence of waste,” Cryan said in a statement issued Friday.


The Missing $30 Million

April 24, 2008

Just where is that $30 million in private contributions to build the stadium expansion coming from? A Star Ledger article says the cash is nowhere in sight.  Associate Press later moved a story that underscored the Ledger’s concerns.

Isn’t it time to pull the plug on Mulcahy’s folly?

Of course we are also waiting for the other shoe to drop, that is, for Rutgers to admit it cannot find buyers for the $70+ million in construction bonds needed to build the expansion.

That will leave students and NJ taxpayers to pick up this wasteful outlay of $100+ million — unless the plug is firmly pulled on this silly monument to Schiano’s out-sized (and under-performing) ego.  As reported by AP:

“This raises the specter that New Jersey taxpayers will be called upon to pay for the expansion, if private donations do not materialize,” said Assemblyman Richard Merkt, R-Morris. “I will not support making the taxpayers bear this added burden.”

Would you commit to a $50,000 kitchen remodel without having some idea of where the money would come from? No thinking person would but thinking seems a rare talent amongst the jock-sniffing Rutgers administrators and Board of Governors.

The one BoG member who voted against the stadium expansion plan, George Zoffinger, ironically is the only one with experience manging large capital projects. As the Bergen Record quoted him:

“I would never go forward — as someone who has built $100 million buildings — with a project like this,” Zoffinger said. He said the plans didn’t allow enough wiggle room for cost overruns and that the private fund raising was by no means assured.

“You’ve got to set some priorities,” Zoffinger said. “This whole borrow, borrow, borrow has gotten New Jersey into the condition it’s in.”

Sigh. It is difficult to express exactly how reckless and foolhardy this expansion is — but the bottomline is that the money is nowhere near in hand.

Another blogger wonders how a state that borders on bankrupt and is forced to close public parks can even think about putting $100+ million into a stadium expansion. Alas, we cannot explain this, either. Nor do we know what to tell Rutgers students who, come fall, will find many classes canceled because professors had to be fired to balance Rutgers’ falling budget.

The one bright spot are the guffaws to be had reading the booster message boards as posters express shock that the citizenry isn’t tripping over themselves in haste to fund Mulcahy’s folly. These boosters apparently keep their hands firmly in their own pockets because, amidst the angst-ridden bravado, there are no pledges of big money contributions to revive this dying stadium plan.

Our favorite so far, from a poster who writes under the name AreYouNuts: Honestly, the Pennsy primary is over and there’s time and space to be filled on the airwaves and in the papers, hence, a bunch of NOTHING was put together.

F* ‘em is what I say!!”

When in doubt…curse.

Maybe that same strategy will work when the stadium contractors persist in presenting bills for work — and RU has nothing but an empty-handed one-finger salute to offer in return.

We have said it before, we will say it again: the stadium expansion — in the midst of a recession that is devastating the New Jersey economy — is so stupid it borders on criminality.

Cui bono?


Philosophizing about Philosophy

April 6, 2008

The Rutgers Philosophy Dept. — the university’s best department by a wide margin — scored big in this New York Times write-up about how it is rapidly growing in popularity with students. The number of majors has doubled in the past six years and the article explores the “why” of this thirst for knowledge.

To the reasons cited by the Times reporter we suggest adding a few. Such as:

o An escape from bozo. Classes in many departments are littered with disruptive, loud bozos (the “students” attracted by football that AD Mulcahy and McCormick like to brag about?). More professors in other departments are complaining about how too many of their students are just taking up space — devoid of curiosity and intellect alike. Philosophy classes remain an intellectual sanctuary even on a campus increasingly overrun by obstreperous Philistines. Good students at Rutgers have fewer places to escape to, and Philosophy just may be the brainiest place on campus.

o Quality attracts quality. Rutgers may have acted on the cheap with most departments but it has not scrimped with Philosophy, which has a faculty composed of world-class scholars such as Tim Maudlin, recently announced winner of a 2008 Guggenheim. It is a pity that so many other departments have to pass the beggar’s cup. Imagine if the many millions that had been poured into a football program that is charitably called mediocre had been spent on scholarship. Just imagine.

The pity is that of course Rutgers could — should — have many more top-tier departments but under Dick McCormick really only four (Philosophy, English, History, and Criminology in Newark) rank among the nation’s best. And all had that prestige long before McCormick arrived on the Banks as president.

Exactly what has Dick McCormick done during his six years? Ah…perhaps Rutgers’ philosophers ought to debate that. Does doing nothing count as doing? Can McCormick be busy doing nothing?


Deferred Maintenance Crisis

March 31, 2008

The disrepair of the Rutgers campus is starkly visible to anybody who bothers to take a 10 minute stroll down College Avenue — but the Record newspaper has wrapped enormously disquieting numbers around the breadth and extent of the deferred maintenance that has turned Rutgers into a slum. About a half-billion dollars would be needed to set Rutgers’ infrastructure right, says the Record: “It is estimated that nearly a billion dollars in maintenance needs to be done at public colleges and universities statewide. About half of that is at Rutgers University, where there are 650 buildings, some dating to the 1700s, at the flagship campus in New Brunswick-Piscataway.”

Buildings literally are rotting before our eyes, as Rutgers confronts the perilous conjunction of dwindling state support and an aging physical plant. Decay and deterioration are the inevitable by-products and there is no easy fix for the state’s broken economics.

Under these circumstances, pursuing a $100+ million football stadium expansion — with unproven fan support and no clear way to re-pay the construction bonds — seems rather like taking out a loan to add a backyard swimming pool when the house is heading into foreclosure. That might make sense in the Three Stooges economics of McCormick, Mulcahy and Schiano, but in the real world of a crumbling New Jersey economy, the stadium expansion can only be viewed as wrongheaded prioritizing on a Caliguan scale.

What part of stop wasting money on a reckless and futile pursuit of big-time sports don’t the university’s leaders in Old Queens understand?


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