Rutgers “Commits” Fleeing the Sinking Ship

October 2, 2008

Yet another member of Greedy Greg Schiano’s much lauded 2009 recruiting class seems to be hopping off Shady’s Sinking Ship, per the Ledger – defensive tackle Malcolm Bunche told Rivals.com he was “re-opening” the recruiting process.  Rutgers boosters of course are stunned.

That makes Bunche the third “commit” to reconsider as Greedy Greg’s coaching inadequacies become ever more vivid.  Per the Ledger: “Rutgers has already had two marquee recruits decommit, with all-purpose back Desmond Scott of Durham, N.C., opting to verbally commit to Duke instead and Immaculata High’s Mark Brazinski, rated the nation’s No. 1 center by Scout.com, reopening his recruiting after giving Rutgers a verbal.”

Watch for more to leap off this sinking ship.  Even high school kids have figured out what Mulcahy III will never, Schiano can’t coach…the stadium expansion is DOA…and Rutgers is back where it belongs, among the worst teams in the Big East.

Speaking of the cockamamie stadium expansion, today’s New York Times has a long take on how the nation’s credit crisis is hammering college finances. (Wall Street Journal has a similar piece here.) Members of the Rutgers BoG may be dumb enough to think the $100 million can still be raised for the unneeded extra seating, but they will be singing solo and will watch their tin cups rust out at the bottom.

And speaking of singing…this blog yesterday was referenced in an NJ.com piece…about Bruce Springsteen.

Last note: even sports writers are taking notice of the disconnect between Greedy Greg’s outsized pay packet and his performance.  Check out Rich Bozich in the Courier-Journal.  Way to go Greggie, it’s always nice to see Rutgers recognized for something even if it is overpaying you!


Secret State Money for Football

September 21, 2008

At the very time that Trenton has been slashing tens of millions of dollars for academics at Rutgers, the state has — on the hush hush — directed around $2.5 million to Rutgers with the secret stash of cash earmarked for athletics, per today’s report by Margolin and Sherman in the Star Ledger.

This revelation comes amidst Slick McCormick’s continuing mea culpas about a lack of transparency in the stewardship of athletics — but the report came not as a result of a confession by McCormick but due to digging by the Ledger reporters.  McCormick talks a good game of being open, but in practice he continues to hide, to deceive, and wouldn’t you if you had authorized pumping tens of millions of dollars into a laugher of a sports program and at the very time that Rutgers academics are crumbling (down five spots to #64 in US News & World reports in the last year alone)?

Write Margolin and Sherman:

“Direct state assistance to the university and its academic programs has been trimmed by more than $16.4 million over the past five years, according to the school.

‘I’m a big supporter of Rutgers athletics. I understand the need for money. But when tuition is going up 10 percent, you have to think twice before adding it to athletics,’ said state Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Essex), a member of the state Budget and Appropriations Committee.”

Indeed.  

Stories about the athletic slush fund have spread nationally.  UPI reports here.  AP is here

And what has all this state money bought?  A wretched football team, so the laugh is on Trenton — and of course the laughs are even louder about the poor chumps who bought “luxury boxes.”

Even boosters are predicting that next Saturday’s game against Morgan State will play out before a half-empty stadium.

As Paul Franklin observes in the Gannett papers: “And so now the words of re grouping, of working harder, of not giving up, of being a family, all that continues to spoken.

So far, the bottom line is that none of those words are ringing true.

The truth right now is that Rutgers is not a good football team.”

We know the decision has been taken, now we are awaiting public announcement that the $100+ million stadium expansion has been canceled.  Amidst the region’s economic meltdown, coupled with on-field performance that proves this is no coach and no program built for success, there will be no wait list, there will be no sell outs, there will only be epic losses as Rutgers is saddled with many more years at $2 million per on Greedy Greg Schiano’s contract.  As the Ledger said of Schiano: “Just poor coaching there.”  And we can thank the eternally clueless Mulcahy III for the tens of millions contractually obligated to the incompetent Schiano.

Sagarin now slots Rutgers at 85th in the nation, and Schiano’s Stumblers are closing in on Syracuse as worst in the Big East.  Looking ahead, it is not inconceivable that Rutgers will win only one game (Morgan State)! Some showing for the tens of millions that have been pumped into the program by lifelong Trenton hack Mulcahy (an expert, apparently, in pork barrel politics but certainly not about sport).

Mulcahy, incidentally, will be fired before the school year finishes. We already hear the vultures flapping for carrion above his office.  The only successful athletic program at Rutgers is women’s basketball — which was successful long before Mulcahy arrived on the Banks and will be successful after he leaves.  He has had nothing whatsoever to do with that.  The programs he has touched — men’s basketball and football — are expensive jokes where the laughs are on Rutgers students and NJ taxpayers who are stuck with ever higher bills.  That realization has recently been sweeping through Trenton and, for Mulcahy, the clock ticks ever louder towards his personal doomsday.

If you missed it…yesterday’s loss to Navy was punctuated when qb Mike Teel took a swing at another Rutgers player.  Watch the punch here. Love that sportsmanship and how Rutgers is presented to a national audience! Tune into the post-game rationalizing here, as Schiano, Teel, et. al. insist “we are a family.”  So, incidentally, are the folks in August: Osage County. 

Schiano has refused to suspend Teel, per MyCentralJersey.com – “In my eyes, it could be a great teaching opportunity, as what not to do when frustration sets in and bubbles over,” Schiano said. “But Mike has apologized for what he did. There’s no excuse for what Mike did. It was inappropriate behavior and not something I or my coaching staff condones. But to make that the reason (to suspend Teel) doesn’t make sense. We’re a close-knit group and it was just an event that bubbled over. 

As a poster writes on the NJ.com message board: “We do admit that watching the travails of this loser coach and his loser program is giving us more mirth than we had hoped for. Schiano is the perfect incompetent to match the incompetence of Mulcahy and McCormick. The Three Stooges of Piscataway, Perfect Together.”

Another poster observes: “Mulcahy ought to rename the team the Rutgers Unicorns for all the other fantasies he’d have you believe.”

A third poster claims to see striking parallels between Schiano and G W Bush — “One gives us financial armageddon. The other gives us football armageddon….But at least Bush is not being paid $2 million dollars a year.”

We ain’t got teachers, we ain’t got classrooms, but at least we still have our fans!

For closing thoughts, we like Dan Spitzer’s in MyCentralJersey.com: As Rutgers football once again begins its descent into the abyss of mediocrity, and the well-to-do folks who are waging class warfare on the rest of us choke on their penne pasta and top-shelf liquors in disgust of the obvious embarrassment of watching the three “wise” men lead Rutgers into oblivion, I would like to paraphrase Bob Dylan by asking: “After they took from you everything . . . they could steal . . . how does it feel?”


Boosters Sit on Their Hands

September 10, 2008

In the Star Ledger, Margolin and Sherman detail the exasperating, devastating failure that has plagued attempts by NJ politicians to raise contributions to build the Rutgers stadium expansion here.  Take out Seatbelt Corzine’s $1 million donation and, reports the Ledger, all other donors had anted up “$92,962 as of Sept. 3. Nearly all the contributions were less than $1,000. Many gave $50. One person gave $114. “

That puts the fundraising drive roughly $29 million shy of the stated $30 million target.

You could not ask for a more eloquent proof of a lack of interest in Rutgers football.  When the chips are down, the “boosters” sit on their wallets and that tells us precisely how deep their support for other university programs will run.  It also tells us how few they are.

The AP has moved its version of this story which means that across the nation Rutgers fans will be seen as cheapskates and the university leadership as Panglossian dimwits thoroughly out of touch with the financial resources and miserliness of its minimal fan base.

For now, however, the big question is where will that missing $29 million come from?  Best guesses are that the BoG will sell $100 million worth of bonds, even though the repayment scenarios for the original $70 million float were made of the stuff stoners croon to one another when high.  Exactly how cockamamie the scenarios will get for repaying $100 million we can only guess.

Says the Ledger: “The Rutgers board of gover­nors, which has known about the funding problems since July, has been examining alternate funding plans — including hikes in ticket prices and the diversion of millions in stadium revenues from other athletics programs — to help finance additional borrowing, according to a confidential cost analysis obtained by The Star-Ledger. “

Put more bluntly — if the BoG votes to go forward with the reckless, unwanted, unnecessary stadium expansion — it will be paid for by stealing money from other Rutgers programs…and when that falls short, you can bet NJ taxpayers will be stuck with the tab…even though we have been asked but said “no thanks” as proven by our refusal to contribute to the “cause.”

Alums, meantime, speak up against “the Trentonization” of Rutgers — read the opinion in Targum. “Rutgers needs new leadership on the Board of Governors and in Old Queens. Nothing short of large-scale change at the very highest levels will bring about renewed alumni confidence in the direction Rutgers is taking.”

More alums speak up in letters to the editor of the Bergen Record here.  Sean Hall (Rutgers, 1989) writes: “If Zoffinger’s values are so wildly different from his fellow governors, perhaps we need a review of the entire board. Perhaps we need a chairman who will actually address the facts and not just attack critics.”  Doug Remer (1970) also writes: “there are very few schools in the nation – and none in the Northeast – where football pays for more than itself. Rutgers football runs in the red to the tune of millions.”

Why is it difficult to understand this: nobody besides the Three Stooges (McCormick, Mulcahy, Schiano) and the BoG wants the stadium expansion and absolutely nobody is willing to pay for it.  Stop the construction now.


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.


Mulcahy’s Lies Unravel: Rutgers Stadium, RIP

July 27, 2008

How many more lies will Mulcahy III tell?

The Rutgers Stadium expansion is effectively DOA, per this Star Ledger expose, Fundraising woes have Rutgers scarlet-faced: “A highly publicized fundraising effort to bridge a $30 million deficit in the financing of Rutgers Stadium has all but collapsed, and university officials are now struggling to find ways to close the gap.”

For months we have said Phase 2 of the stadium expansion isn’t going to happen. And it is not going to happen. The money for it is not there, has never been there…and why the BoG couldn’t do this simple arithmetic before it gave the green light is indeed a mystery. The lot of them seem irresponsible to the point of criminal dereliction. Talk about fuzzy logic. If this weren’t New Jersey, everybody involved would have been jailed weeks ago. That is how funky the logic underlying this plan is.

Obviously, too, there is no booster base because they have come up with no money for the project. We said some weeks ago their total contribution seemed to amount to some empty beer cans…and perhaps we overestimated the depth of the pockets of the Scarlet Nation.

Probably the most interesting part of the Ledger report are the revelations that Mulcahy III has also lied about the Phase I construction timetable. The private boxes will not be ready by the season’s start, despite Mulcahy III’s strident, repeated insistence. Per the Ledger, “According to the university’s contract with Gilbane Building Co., the stadium’s construction manager, ‘substantial completion of construction’ is to be reached by Sept. 26, and final completion is not anticipated until Nov. 28. After a private tour of the stadium last week, Gov. Corzine, in fact, told aides that he felt the construction could not possibly be done by Sept. 1, according to administration officials.”

Duh. Why was Mulcahy III fired by then Gov. Whitman? “Newspapers reported that drastically falling revenues and chronic overspending led to Mulcahy’s dismissal by Republican Governor Christine Whitman…”

You’ll recall that, at a mid-July press tour of Rutgers stadium, Mulcahy III insisted, per the AP: “Let me put it this way, I am going to do this thing for $102 million,” Mulcahy said. “I’m going to have seats in the south end zone and I am going to have the scoreboard and I am going to have the club done.”

Righto.

Here’s another report on Mulcahy III’s mid-July lies.

Two realties:

* Phase 2 of the stadium expansion is going to be “delayed indefinitely,” exactly as we have been predicting for many months. The economic downturn will be cited as the reason, but the real reason is that the project just does not pencil out. It is a $100+ million monument to puerile ego that no one needs. And that reality has begun to sink in.

* Mulcahy III will soon announce his “retirement.”

The unknown is how much damage this reckless, absurd caper has inflicted on Rutgers. Who can take this university at its word going forward. Mulcahy III is and has always been a liar. Per the Ledger: “There’s only a certain amount of money to go around,” said [Assemblyman Bob] Diegnan (D-Middlesex). ‘It’s time for a time-out here. It’s time for President McCormick and Bob Mulcahy to stand before a group — the press, the Legislature, the board of governors — to explain what the dilemma is, and what their decisions are. I hate to say this, but they are destroying any kind of trust relationship they have with me and the Legislature as a whole.’”

Until Mulcahy III goes there can be no healing. Only then can the stench of Schianogate begin to blow away.


Obstacles mounting against Rutgers Stadium

July 17, 2008

It’s time…to call a halt to the reckless and foolhardy Rutgers Stadium expansion plan, a $100+ million monument to athletic director Mulcahy III”s ego, but this is balm a starving university cannot afford. Another voice weighed in with the same concerns in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, where reporter Jonathan Tamari reviews the manifold and multiplying obstacles that are undoing Mulcahy’s III Captain Ahab-style obsession with spending our money on a stadium no one needs and few want.
* $30 million in private contributions were promised to help with the funding. All of $250,000 has been raised.

* Meantime, bids for the construction costs have been spiraling. No one knows how expensive this stadium would be.

Add it up and even onetime supporters are backing off: “As big a Rutgers football fan as I am, I just cannot see the state kicking in any money at this time,” said Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D., Middlesex), the chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee. As to reports the project may already be over budget, “it just makes you wonder how well they vetted the process in the beginning.”

Just as Ahab wrecked the Pequod, so Mulcahy III’s thoughtless pursuit of grandiose sports visions is threatening to throw Rutgers the university up against the rocks of sports marketing reality and the result, for Rutgers students and alums, is unlikely to be pretty.

Send the bulldozers home. It’s time to lower the curtain on Mulcahy III’s folly.


A House of Cards Aflutter

July 11, 2008

Another shoe is dropping on the reckless Rutgers stadium expansion as Trenton warlord Ray Lesniak (himself a Rutgers alum) is quoted in the Star Ledger expressing profound worry about the economics: “Lesniak yesterday said if Rutgers plans to increase the overall cost of the project beyond $102 million, ‘I’d want to find out where the additional dollars are going to come from.’ He said he doubts additional money could either be found in state coffers or collected through his current fundraising campaign.”

The Ledger, meantime, reports that insiders are saying stadium construction bids came in promiscuously over budget — at least $18 million (17%) over the initial $102 million plan.

Where is that extra money coming from?

Right now, nobody even knows where the $30 million Lesniak and Gov. Seatbelt Corzine supposedly are raising in private contributions is in fact coming from. Supposedly they’ve raised less cash than you’d expect to see in a Skid Row mission collection box (thus Lesniak’s — “don’t look at me” when asked about the extra monies now needed to pursue stadium expansion).

According to reporter Pat Alex in the Bergen Record, Corzine and Lesniak have raised $250,000 of the $30 million (and keep in mind Corzine personally pledged $1 million). That’s some showing of intense fan support!

Alex also reports that Rutgers so far has spent $13 million on the stadium work done thus far — money that Rutgers is forced to borrow.

And she throws in this zinger: “‘This is a debacle; they already dug up half the place and now they find they don’t have the money for construction,’’ said the source with knowledge of the plans. He said the university went ahead with construction without firm plans or financing in place. ‘“It’s out of control,’ he said.”

What’s the likely scenario for Rutgers stadium now? Expect delay, delay, and more delay. Even sports mad Louisville has stumbled with its football stadium expansion — and that is despite a $10 million donation by the Papa Johns founder. In New Brunswick, we hear the biggest single donation so far has been 72 Miller Lite beer cans, empty but good for the recycling monies!

At Old Queens, senior administrators are apparently ducking for cover as the farcical stadium expansion plans blow up in their faces. Heads will roll, we hear, and mutterings on College Ave. say 70 year-old Sweaty Mulcahy III may be in line to take the fall. For him of course this is deja vu all over again because his dismissal from the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority reportedly was triggered by chronic over-spending.

Either way — this situation will only get uglier. The $18 million excess is just round one in a state where public construction never comes in on budget. Some experts are muttering the eventual price would top $150 million, assuming Phase 2 of the expansion actually happens. Our bet is that it won’t, not with the state’s coffers already empty and Rutgers forced to lay off teachers and cancel classes just to make up the latest round of state budget cuts.

At least we are in for mirthful times. Watching Mulcahy III, Slick McCormick, and Schiano wrestling with high finance is as deep a belly laugh as watching the Three Stooges try to explain Godel’s Incompletenesss Theorems. Pass the popcorn, we can’t wait for this show to start.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.