They are obviously worried over at Old Queens. Yesterday, the Department of Media Relations posted a second defense of the football program at Rutgers, barely a week after its first attempt. The statement reads as a laundry list of distortions and falsehoods, compiled by one Greg Trevor, whose job seem to center on the creation of PR sleaze to cover the tracks of the McCormick administration. As contemptible as the document is, it is important that its claims are refuted. Below I list claims made in the document and address them one by one. I will be forwarding this to the hapless Mr. Trevor, in the hope that his conscience bothers him a little by now.
Rutgers has long been regarded as an excellent public research university. Now the university is gaining an athletics reputation to match its academic accomplishments.
Rutgers has indeed long been regarded as an excellent public research university, at least until the last decade or so. In 1997, shortly after joining the Big East and “big time” sports, Rutgers was ranked 45th among American universities by USNWR, the most influential college ranking system. Now, it shares the 59th spot with the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Georgia. In eleven years, the same period in which the pursuit of “excellence” in big time sports been a priority, Rutgers has plummeted 14 positions in academic ranking. This drop in academic standing is measured against the expenditure on “big time” sports during this period of over $100 million. In chasing “excellence” in sports, Rutgers has rerouted enormous sums of money from academics to athletics, resulting in an ongoing academic decline measured in larger class sizes, decaying learning facilities, and fewer ranked departments. Tellingly, Rutgers increasingly cannot offer scholarship packages to top students even while it increases its funding of athletic scholarships. Simply, in pursuing big time sports on a limited budget, Rutgers has weakened its academic mission.
Rutgers is committed to a successful and accountable athletics program. The recent success of the athletics program is a major point of pride for New Jersey and the university. The university’s national visibility has risen dramatically.
Certainly, the students chanting “f**k navy”, made the papers and gathered Rutgers free publicity, but not of the kind the apologists for football like to discuss. Beyond such incidents, it shouldn’t have to be pointed out that Rutgers’ sacrifice of its academic standards in pursuit of “pride” supposedly derived from football is a betrayal of the university’s purpose and mission.
Coach Greg Schiano is recognized as one of the best football coaches in the nation.
Only by those at Rutgers that sign off on his massive salary. He has a lifetime losing record and has never even won the Big East.
“RUTGERS’ ATHLETICS PROGRAM IS EXCEPTIONALLY INCLUSIVE”
It is not. Six sports have been reduced to club status to pay for the ever-growing demands of football.
Rutgers saved more than $700,000 from reduced expenses associated with the transition of the six varsity sports to club status, even after increasing women’s athletics scholarships.
This is highly dubious in itself, and dismissed by Board of Governors member George Zoffinger, among others. Even if it were true, the money saved is less than the amount Rutgers will pay Kent State for a single football match in 2012. This gutting of some of Rutgers oldest and most proud sporting traditions to fund the football money-pit is in itself an indictment. That the McCormick administration would rather use $750,000 to fly in a football team than provide opportunities for scores of real student athletes to compete and better themselves, reveals the talk about “inclusivity” to be an utter mistruth.
RUTGERS STADIUM EXPANSION
The expansion project is self-supporting – no taxpayer or tuition dollars are being used.
Rutgers can neither know or guarantee this, and therefore, this claim is simply PR rubbish. Rutgers has borrowed $72 million in the hope that the new stadium will continue to sell out, even with inflated ticket prices, for 15 more years. This gamble is set across the backdrop of the current stadium being undersold far more times than it has sold out. Simply put, the McCormick administration borrowing on pure hope. If Rutgers cannot meet the steep debt service on the stadium, the money to meet payments will obviously have to be taken from other areas within the university. Like the construction budget, or academics. This habit of making claims of self-sufficiency with zero supporting evidence is central to the PR spin that the McCormick administration practices in its attempts to protect the football program.
The university will continue to manage the project responsibly and make changes to ensure it is completed without exceeding the project budget approved by the Rutgers Board of Governors.
All evidence points in the other directions, and the administration’s refusal to provide details of the budget should give even the most gullible cause for concern. According to the Star Ledger, the first phase of construction is already $18 million over budget, and the $30 million that was supposed to be raised by Jon Corzine is, in the words of Raymond Lesniak, unlikely to top $10 million. Here, any administration cognizant of its responsibilities to the fee-paying students and the New Jersey taxpayer would call halt to assess the situation. President McCormick has offered no plan to the university community to bridge this disastrous shortfall in capital funds, and Robert Mulcahy seems intent to build on and let taxpayers and students pick up the tab. Conceived in secret, voted on without any meaningful consultation with the university community, and seemingly proceeding without any fiscal accountability, the expansion project has been an unmitigated disaster.
To go into further details of, for example, the utterly specious reasons advanced for the “beneficial” relationship with Nelligan Sports Marketing, will require a separate piece. However, it is enough to say that the desperate spin that the Rutgers PR department attempts here is yet more evidence that this university is utterly contemptuous of the very community it is supposed to serve. President McCormick has made dishonesty, evasion and concealment a hallmark of his time as President. That his office goes to yet-greater lengths to try and convince the community that the secrecy and scandal that accompanies the athletics buildup at Rutgers somehow equates to “accountability” should, unfortunately, come as no surprise.
Submitted by A Grumpy Alum