The blame multiplies

September 8, 2008

Even longtime Rutgers fan Home News & Tribune columnist Paul Franklin now has grumbles about how the monomaniacal pursuit of bigtime sports is leading the university astray.  He writes: I would be remiss if I did not go on record as saying WCTC program manager Bruce Johnson got the shaft when he was replaced as the voice of Rutgers basketball. A long-time loyal fan of the school, there was no need to pull the plug. None. Yet again our state university continues to pick on those who have shared their loyalty and been around campus for years. And that includes football patrons who are losing their long-time seating locations. Yes, those are the pitfalls of progress to the big-time, but it seems there could be just a little more compassion.

And Rutgers has jettisoned compassion for what?  That question stings because the answer is for nothing.  Rutgers is a desperately mediocre football team — #56 in the nation, eerily just below Texas A & M, the school Rutgers is tied with (at 64) in the US News & World Report rankings.  In The Trentonian, assistant sports editor Ben Doody puts some context around Rutgers and its Big East conference brethren: “The more I watch Big East teams embarrass themselves – and that’s happened now in consecutive weeks – the more I’m convinced that, with apologies to the ACC, the Big East is clearly the worst of the six BCS conferences.” Ouch.

Lastly, a reader wrote in with this tip:  “Little birdie has it that some certain parkers at Rutgers football games are getting preferential treatment. Check into it. One even had a parking cone reserving his spot. The old phone call and a wink,alive and well.”  The examples of Trentonization at Rutgers just keep mounting.

The good news of course is that as the Rutgers Season of Discontent plods forward — and fans abandon the Schianogate miseries — the parking situation will get a lot better.  Of course Rutgers losses on football will only deepen, which will mean more and bigger tuition hikes for Rutgers students.


“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.


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.


“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.


“Football Fantasy at Rutgers”

August 8, 2008

The New York Times has joined the posse of newspapers editorializing about misdirection at Rutgers and the first sentence sets up what follows: “Ever since Rutgers, New Jersey’s largest state university, began its campaign several years ago to become a big-time football power, bad things have happened.”

Ouch, Old Queens, ouch!

And it gets worse: “This single-minded, ask-no-questions push for football stardom has now reached a crisis.”

The Times also says of university president Slick McCormick that he “has long been a shameless cheerleader for the high-stakes football program.”

The Times continues: “In a logical world, Rutgers officials would swallow their egos and admit that their football fantasy was ill conceived, especially in view of New Jersey’s huge debt. They would scale down the stadium project, especially since the university couldn’t even fill the existing stadium when the team had losing seasons.”

Just what will happen in this illogical world of ours? The Times doesn’t know, and neither do we. But we know what should happen. Rutgers needs to pull out of bigtime football, athletic director Mulcahy III should be fired for jocksniffing to a criminal extent, Slick McCormick should be fired for abandonment of his position, and the rest of Rutgers needs to return to being a university.

What part of: there is no meaningful support for the reckless Phase 2 stadium expansion, which is prohibitively costly and wanted by so few, is hard to understand?

What part of: despite pouring millions into the Raritan in a puerile pursuit of bigtime football, the Rutgers team still is mediocre on its better days, is hard to understand?

What part of: NJ doesn’t need a Louisville of the North, it needs a Berkeley of the east, is hard to understand?

The Times, for its part, points fingers of blame where they belong: at the jocksniffing Trenton hacks who refuse money for academics but open the state’s coffers for football. “Rutgers is a public university, and its spending should be monitored closely by state officials. But Gov. Jon Corzine and most of the state legislators are big Rutgers football fans, and that does not make for much of a check on spending.”

Meantime, the Bergen Record, in its Friday editorial, tears into Rutgers: “Fiscal responsibility is absent at Rutgers. And state officials refuse to rein in the excesses. While these same officials argue for reductions in benefits for state employees and a reduction in state spending, they allow Rutgers to spend and borrow millions of dollars for its football program.” Along the way, the Record calls the Nelligan-Mulcahy tie-up a conflict of interest (it is), it mocks McCormick’s returning his undeserved $100k bonus, and it expresses profound disgust at Greedy Greg Schiano’s inflated pay package. When the Record is done, it doesn’t leave much skin on the Rutgers leadership. “Where is Governor Corzine’s outrage? Why is he not demanding the resignations of the rubber-stamping members of Rutgers’ board of governors? Why is he not questioning McCormick’s leadership and priorities? Why isn’t the Legislature demanding a change of leadership at Rutgers?”

It is time to clean house at Trenton, booting out the hacks, the jocksniffers, the Neanderthals, from Seatbelt Corzine to Three Ring Codey.

As for the Rutgers community, our question has to be: how much more embarrassment need we endure? Schianogate has become a poster child for all that can afflict higher education when the powers that be (in our case: Slick, Mulcahy III, and the jocksniffing BoG) are so intoxicated by a Quixotic (read: stupid) pursuit of “bigtime” sports glories that they forget the foundational purpose of a university is education. When even the august NYTimes joins in mocking our university leadership, there can be no further disputing the fact that Rutgers needs new leadership.

We believe the count is now 0 newspapers editorializing for the Rutgers football hysteria, nine against. Even a booster should be able to understand a shutout score.

It’s Friday, have a listen to what we are listening to. Now, that is something we can get behind.


“Secrecy breeds skepticism at Rutgers”

August 7, 2008

Even Gannett, which has generally been favorable to Mulcahy III’s reign of self-indulgence, blows the whistle on Mulcahy III’s Nixonian secrecy in today’s editorial. As Gannett writes: “Rutgers athletics officials have no one but themselves to blame” and that means Mulcahy III.

Fire him, put an end to the misery of Schianogate that continues to associate the once good Rutgers name with secrecy, hidden deals and worse.

Meantime, the remaining members of the Rutgers special committee to whitewash Mulcahy III’s wrongdoings have been named. Ho-hum. A member of the Board of Governors, a longtime member of the Board of Trustees, a onetime Rutgers basketball player, Hollis Copeland…. What was the headline of that Gannett editorial? Oh, right, we are using it above.

We are yelling hurray because this group spares us the need to waste energy denouncing it. Slick McCormick has created a self-ridiculing group and, for saving us the effort, we are thankful.

Even a booster shouts on Rivals: “All in all its pretty stacked in favor of finding no problems, which is what we want.”

Another booster guffaws on the Rivals board: “ Not only they are not going to find any problems. Hollis may even bash those making unfounded allegations.”

Indeedy, Slick McCormick, that’s some panel you’ve put together!

To what end? Today another of Greedy Greg Schiano’s heralded “commits” has decommitted, as the fall-out from the Schianogate scandal inflicts more damage on the Rutgers reputation. We’d predicted this class would shatter; it’s happening.

Lastly, there’s this report that — surprise! — says that New Jerseyans pay the highest state and local tax burden in the nation. The highest! And yet state support for public colleges keeps falling. Where do the monies go? Take a look at Mulcahy III and the 100+ million stadium expansion boondoggle to get some sense of where our tax dollars are at work (or lollygagging as the case may be). Indeed if Phase 2 of the expansion were to go forward — without the $30 million Corzine promised to privately raise but he cannot because of the economy and with costs spiraling well over the initial $102 million estimate — can you guess who would be left holding this stinky bag of bad planning, cronyism, and ego-driven building?


Mulcahy III’s Tiresome Lying

August 6, 2008

In a turgid and somnolent Star-Ledger op-ed (mercifully not online), Rutgers athletic director “Big Bob” Mulcahy III, he of the bottomless pit of scumbag entitlement, offered up a seemingly endless self-defense of his many missteps leading up to the current Schianogate scandal in which Rutgers finds itself. Reading Mulcahy III’s screed — to the extent we could, without falling asleep — what struck us was his determination to keep right on lying.

He writes, for instance “there’s a tremendous sense of pride” among students and alums due to football. Proof? He offers not a shred, neither of the alleged pride nor of the causal connection between football and this alleged pride.

Football, per Mulcahy III, has triggered an “unprecedented number” of applications. Simply untrue. A lie.

He writes: “The student academic profile continue to rise.” Duh. The current demographic bulge is lifting every school’s academic profile. But Rutgers is in fact lifted very, very little.

Mulcahy III even lies about sports. He writes that Greedy Greg Schiano has led Rutgers football to “two straight championships.” Untrue. Schiano has never brought a championship to Rutgers. In 2007, RU was tied for next to last in the Big East. In 2006, Rutgers was tied for third. In 2005, Rutgers was tied for third. There are no championships, none, and it is staggering that Mulcahy III would try to pass off this stinky lie in print.

Along the way Mulcahy III indulges in wildly baroque ethical leaps, still insisting it is perfectly OK — not a violation of commonly understood ethical precepts — to do a sweetheart, no bid deal with Nelligan Sports when your son the golfer is a vice president on the Nelligan payroll.

Were Mulcahy III a freshman in a rhetoric class, his paper would get an “F” — for bloat, for specious reasoning, and for flatulent language. It’s a document that reads like verbal vomit.

Here’s some reading for you, Mulcahy III: The Rutgers Fact Book. The numbers don’t lie. But you do. You paint a picture of a school transformed — energized! reborn! — because of football and the reality is that Rutgers is stumbling ahead with, if anything, deteriorating academics for which students are required to pay ever more.

As Rutgers continues its deterioration into the “Louisville of the North,” it becomes an ever worse deal for students.

Of course the cruelest irony is that Rutgers still has at best a mediocre football team that gets not a lone vote in ESPN’s power rankings. Sports Illustrated pegs Rutgers at fifth in the eight team Big east. Think about that. Millions poured into the Raritan for what? A team that scarcely cracks the top 50…and academics that long ago sunk to the river bottom. Academics and football, perfect together indeed, perfectly mediocre.

Much more insightful than Mulcahy III’s endless self-defense — printed in full by the Ledger, we imagine, because its very bulk illustrates the desperation of a Trenton hack in his last hours — is this Margulies cartoon from the Bergen Record. The sound of clapping is our applause for Margulies’ recognition that, at Rutgers, football does nothing but siphon off desperately needed money from academics.

Really now, Mulcahy III, it is time to sail to Byzantium, old man. You are ever more obviously but a paltry thing.


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