“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.

NFL Draft Report

April 28, 2008

Last weekend the NFL held its annual draft of college players and this morning brought an email from a Rutgers professor: “Doesn’t the comparative absence of draft picks from Big East schools suggest that Schiano’s ‘Cinderella’ record has been achieved, not just against the powder-puff out-of-conference teams Mulcahy always schedules, but also against weak in-conference opponents?”

The writer goes on to note that in the first 50 picks, the Big East had exactly two players. Rutgers, for its part, had two players selected in the entire draft. USC, by contrast, had 10 players picked. Ten!

We ran a few more numbers. The Big East had a total of 19 players picked, mainly in later rounds (where the chances of making the pro team are not usually good). The ACC had 35. The Pac-10 had 34. The SEC had 34. The Big 10 had 28.

A booster posted this summary of Big East draft picks on the Rivals message board.

The numbers don’t lie. Big East football is not professional grade and Rutgers definitely is not a major football power. And still the university’s checkbook is wide open to pay for more of everything for football.

And for this, Rutgers needs a $100+ million dollar stadium expansion?

So much money spent, so little on field success.

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.

Stadium Expansion Death Watch

April 25, 2008

Call this the official countdown to an acknowledgment by Old Queens that it does not have the money to pay for the $100+ million expansion of Rutgers stadium — in a time when the state of New Jersey is rushing into a deep recession, state parks are closing, and professors are getting fired.

Today the Home News & Tribune reported on the failure by Rutgers to make progress in raising the needed money.

The Record chimes in with this headline: No cash? No prob: Rutgers stadium expansion begins

Nationally, meantime, the economic downturn is causing numerous development projects to come to a halt. The Wall Street Journal documents this abrupt u-turn in construction here. Even projects that make sense are coming up short and getting shelved. And the Rutgers stadium expansion makes no sense; it clearly is on life support with the minutes ticking down.

Yesterday, this blog reported on the latest developments in the missing $30 million, that is, the failure by Rutgers and Gov. Corzine to raise the $30 million in private donations to pay for part of the expansion plan. And there is no word at all about the status of the $70+ million in bonds needed to pay for rest of the project, probably because Wall Street would laugh at that offering at this time.

What is staggering is that anybody in the school administration believes that adding some seats to a stadium is more important than doing something — anything — to shore up Rutgers’ plummeting academic reputation. As for New Jersey, the state is a national laughingstock for its pork barrel politics, so this stadium expansion is right out of the corrupt Trenton playbook. So what if Johnny can’t read — let him watch ESPN!

Keep reading this space. The obit for this foolhardy and reckless plan already is being drafted.

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?

Let Them Eat Termites!

April 18, 2008

Tens of thousands, millions, who knows how many termites there are, but residents of Davidson Residence Halls on the Busch Campus insist their rooms are overrun with the things. Right there is the paradox of Rutgers. Promiscuous spending on a football stadium is proceeding with shameless abandon, while paces away students’ dorm rooms are literally being eaten from under them — and seemingly no one in the administration gets the message this sends to students. Or maybe nobody cares.

Rutgers — literally — is rotting. The infrastructure is crumbling. The Busch bug infestation is just one of a myriad instances of decay — but there is no shortage of money for sports at Rutgers, from the reckless $100+ million stadium expansion to the Hale Center $12.5 million expansion.

Talk about cockamamie priorities but on a campus where jock-sniffers rule, this is what you can expect to get. It won’t get better until there is housecleaning at the top. That is reality.

As Princeton president Robert Goheen told the Notre Dame president who had asked how Notre Dame could become an academically excellent institution — “‘First, fire the football coach.”

Too bad Dick McCormick didn’t seek Goheen’s advice before he passed.

Criminals on the Banks

April 18, 2008

“RU has successfully recruited athletes with criminal records before – adult criminal records, at that.”

Phil Mushnick, New York Post

It’s an oldie but a goodie. Read Mushnick’s column about Schiano, criminality, and Rutgers football.

The puzzlement is why the team still is so bad. As noted in College Football News,” After taking a step backwards in 2007, the Scarlet Knights could recede again in 2008.”

She’s Not Heavy…But She Is

April 10, 2008

Turns out Jeannine LaRue — the onetime Corzine staffer recently appointed by Dick McCormick to fill a long vacant vice presidency at Rutgers — is even more expensive than we thought. Digging by onetime board of trustees chair Arthur Kamin, reported in the Home News & Tribune, turned up that the LaRue price-tag is more than double what we had feared: “a university spokeswoman disclosed that the current year’s budget to operate the new vice president for public affairs office is $588,577.” And that is to do a job that hadn’t been thought necessary for the decade the position lay vacant.

Even more curious, LaRue allegedly manages the university’s lobbyists, but she isn’t one, according to Kamin. And she will earn her paycheck doing exactly what?

Matters do get funny (in a ghoulish way) when a university spokesperson told Kamin about LaRue: “She also will be responsible for directing strategies for outreach and advocacy.”

Indeed, indeed…and we will be seeing evidence of these efforts when?

As Kamin writes, “[McCormick] must learn that he has to operate on a higher level than trying to ingratiate himself with the many politicians who see the state university as just one more patronage pit.”

Take a deep breath, and flip back to the “Funny” we originally posted about LaRue’s appointment.

At least this isn’t quite as wasteful as McCormick’s Kavanaugh Affair.

At least not yet.

Racism, Exploitation, and Worse

April 9, 2008

Perhaps it is a good thing that the Rutgers men’s basketball team is the worst in the Big East and that the football team is mired in mediocrity. That’s because the evidence mounts that bigtime college sports ruthlessly exploit the players (often minorities), for the benefit of the universities and the (primarily white) boosters. In the News & Tribune, basketball coach Lou Lefevre calls the NCAA the National Conspiracy Against Athletes and, in a recent column, he writes: “There is no other American entity that even approaches the unconstitutional exploitation that occurs with these college athletes.”

At the crux of Lefevre’s upset is the NCAA rule that athletes cannot receive monetary rewards (other than tuition, room, board), whilst successful sports programs — think Notre Dame, Kansas basketball, USC — are awash in riches. Lefevre writes: “This restriction [against pay for athletes] is as discriminatory as not allowing certain races or religions to vote or own property. Nothing can be more un-American than restricting a person’s ability to benefit from the actions of their hard work and ability.”

Read Lefevre’s hard-hitting column.

Then think about how Greg Schiano went from one of the lower-paid coaches in the Big East to the highest-paid state employee in New Jersey.

We hold to our position that Rutgers boosters should stop wearing red to the game and go for white instead.