Secret State Money for Football

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?”

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14 Responses to Secret State Money for Football

  1. LouisStreetLou says:

    Looks like this Wednesdays secretive confab by the BOG was more than even they bargained for according to insiders at the Navy torpedoe job. Financial worries not only abound but appear to be coming to fruition by accounting types at the state university.
    The bleakest of bleak was painted that even made member Zoffinger speechless. Not completing the stadium expansion was the mildest of scenarios forcast and that was if all broke well for the administration. The midline prognostication was not only higher tuitions and a scaling back of footballs fantasy island dreams and caviar lifestyles to the days of Princeton,Lehigh and Colgates being the main schedued events and not having to bear Big East logos and costs any longer. Leaner ,meaner and more acountability with a pared down buyout of the current big name coaches to be at hand sooner than later to get the house in order post haste. The gloom and doom if there is an adverse market affect dependemtn of money market reactions,bond indebtedness and the like also brought the black cloud of partial school closings from Newark to pIscataway/New Brunswick and Camden campuses.
    “How did things get this bad” one member queried.The hired reviewer retorted,”you shoud be telling me that”.It sure looks like many more committees will be asking these same questios of you and your actions over the last several years.
    Hate it or love it,the answer has always been clear,football and greed. So let the investigations and District Attorneys personnel,who also have been called to task on all this sort it out,clean it up and put things back in order. Don’t be very surprised if todays players aren’t on your current Rutgers scorecards in the very near future and are either cut adrift,living in some foreign land or bunking in wih the Lynch’s and James’ of recent noted tendency toward lavishness at the public trough along with their creative ways of acheiving it.
    While Patience is a virtue,prison terms are forreal. The C tier cellblock awaits,let’s see who makes the morning rollcall.

  2. ferdek says:

    When the &**& hits the fan, “keep it in the family.” This phrase was used over and over again to stamp out any negative comments about the team’s 0-3 start and the Teel swing. What “Family?” This is a football team an extra-curricular activity. It just sounds like an episode of the Sopranos. The fans, students and taxpayers are not part of the “family?” We pay the bills!

  3. John Lister says:

    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.

    Not true. Women’s basketball may be the only successful so-called revenue sport. Rutgers has, and has had other successful sports (however you want to define “success”).

    And it could have more, if it had the commitment. Rebecca Soni (1 Gold, 2 Silvers in Beijing) could have gone to Rutgers instead of USC (she swam for Scarlet Aquatic Club at Werblin for years) if she knew there really was a commitment to Swimming and Diving from Athletics management.

  4. ferdek says:

    John: not sure that RU women’s basketball is making any real money. Stringer doesn’t come cheap and you would need to see a study of revenues versus expenses. The athletic department is not the economics department so many actual costs are not fully attributed to the program. Hopefully the new AD CFO will be charged with a complete review of “all” the costs including the RAC and maybe a new RAC. Stringer has been making noises about needing a new one for awhile.

  5. John Lister says:

    Ferdek, I’m pretty positive that no Rutgers sport makes money, which is why I wrote my parenthetical comment about defining success. But you are correct that the Athletics Department finances are anything but transparent. I agree that we should get that transparency from the new AD CFO if he/she is going to be worth anything.

    I also worry about Rutgers putting a lot of money into limited-use buildings while much of its other stock rots. The football stadium is used, what, 10-12 times per year? The RAC how many? Most of the time they sit idle.

    The College Avenue Gym supports many things besides wrestling: the main Gym is constantly occupied with students playing basketball. The Werblin pools have many activities besides Varsity swimming and diving: the biggest customer is Scarlet Aquatic, the age-group club. So the costs of both of these facilities are amortized over many groups. Athletic Department accounting should reflect this.

    Disclaimer: I work for Aquatics in the Recreation Department. I’m sitting in my office looking out over the Werblin pools.

  6. ferdek says:

    John L: lucky you! Fall on a great college campus just waiting to get better…My main concern is that the new CFO will not have the economic perspective needed to allocate costs in a way that goes beyond just accounting costs. Hopefully the Bloustein School might see this as an opportunity to really get down to business once and for all. It is silly to build these venues that have such limited use and high overheads. Word is that the basketball folks want a new RAC pronto. More visions of Taj’s and more perks for just a handful of student athletes. These programs are so close to being semi-pro and the pressures to win big are enormous. There should be an Annual Report to the student body on the success/progress of student athletes in all Div IA sports to insure that pressure is kept on the AD to meet their obligation to the student-athlete. Also in the Annual Report should be a detailed financial report on the salary packages of all coaches including ALL compensation whether paid by RU or outside vendors. FULL DISCLOSURE every year!

  7. John Lister says:

    Ferdek: Absolutely. I have no problem with College Football being transformed into a business. Separate it from the University (after all, there isn’t any real learning taking place), and let it stand or fall on its own merits. Acknowledge that the business of College Football is to be farm teams for the NFL and pay the players. After all, they are the ones producing (or not!) And then let us see whether the business model works!

  8. MikeV says:

    ferdek,
    Publishing the grades of students is something that will not and should not ever happen. Just because they play football you feel entitled to critique their course selection and performance? Why not then disclose every scholarship athlete’s course schedule and gpa?… Heck why not do the same for anyone on a scholarship of any kind?
    The university DID disclose the details of greg schiano’s contract, INCLUDING the 250k paid through Nelligan Sports. The star ledger in fact published this shortly after the contract was agreed upon. That little bit of information was somehow never mentioned when the same paper did a story about how the details were a secret.

    John,
    Come on, i know you are a good guy but i feel like you have some unfounded hatred towards the football team. I don’t know how you can say that there is no learning taking place when our APR is among the top5 in division one football. Also in 2006 Brian Leonard won the Draddy award which is the academic Heisman. Again the next year Brendan Renkart won the same award… as a civil engineering major. Both were at times captains on the team. One was drafted to the Rams and the other was invited to training camps so it isn’t like they were scrub players there to boost ratings.

  9. HansTee says:

    This is interesting.It now looks like there will be even less money for other Rutgers sports to travel in FY09. The baseball team for example, has been left out of the inagural BigTen/Big East challenge in Florida next February.Could this be the first break from the Big East over the next several years?

  10. ferdek says:

    One comment Mike V: I am not interested in the players grades. All I want to see is if the team has accomplished its academic requirements, players are making progress toward graduation, and the quality of their work is not being distorted by any form of unethical coaching/test taking etc. In other words a “clean” program. If the student-athletes are just a joke in terms of academics then reform needs to be imposed. Same for behavior problems. As to the pay package, all the details and valuation are needed. How much is an interest free loan worth etc. Full Disclosure. And please before allowing a coach to demand a huge capital investment that should also should be public information. Of course any NCAA rule compliance issues should be in that annual report.

  11. cody says:

    Mike, being the top five with APR is nothing to brag about. It has nothing to do with academic excellence.

    In the article published on 8/24 titled “Director defends Rutgers’ sports” Mulcahy states “Head coach Greg Schiano has also led the program to success in the classroom. In the most recent Academic Progress Report (APR), the index established by the NCAA to measure a student-athlete’s progress toward graduation, Rutgers football was ranked No. 3 nationally in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A).”

    It should be noted that the Big East also posts an “All-Academic Team” each year. Nominations for the All-Academic Team are submitted by each of the BIG EAST’s 16 member institutions. To be eligible for the honor, a nominee must have competed in a BIG EAST-sponsored sport, earned a varsity letter, attained a minimum grade-point average of 3.00 for the preceding academic year, and completed a minimum of two consecutive semesters or three consecutive quarters of academic work, with a total of 18 semester or 27 quarter credits, not including remedial courses. The cut sports would have added greatly to this list. As you might guess football does not participate.

    Back to the APR rating that people seem to quote to reflect academics. Let me quote a previous article I posted on another thread:

    “Rutgers is fond of touting the NCAA “APR” statistics. APR does not in any way measure academic excellence, nor is it supposed to. It measures, instead, minimal progress towards a degree. It ignores Grade Point Averages, except to determine compliance with minimum eligibility requirements, nor does it reward honors program participation. It is, therefore, hardly a real measure of academic success”

    I don’t have anything against football but if some are going to use the APR to reflect academic excellence then clarification is needed. How many would have made the Big East All Academic Team where the standards are obviously much higher and do reflect academic excellence. Why is football the only big east sport not to participate in a standard that does reflect excellence in the classroom?

    Measuring minimal progress towards a degree while ignoring Grade Point Averages is hardly something that justifies what is going on let alone brag about it.

    If you want to see the 159 student athletes that made the much more demanding All Academic Team go to this link:
    http://scarletknights.com/news/release.asp?prID=6748
    A list that would be much larger if not for the cut sports. Mucahy and others should measure the football team against these big east standards not the APR ratings. Then you would have something to be proud of, assuming some large percentage can meet the Big East standards.

    Again I have nothing against football but comments about the APR are misleading until the standards are defined in greater detail.

  12. Rick in San Francisco, RC'91 says:

    The only successful athletic program at Rutgers is women’s basketball —
    Field Hockey?

  13. ferdek says:

    “successful athletic program”
    The measure should be between revenue and non revenue sports first. Then everything else should be the same. Ethical recruiting, academic progress, good behavior and full disclosure of all financial arrangements with the coaching staff. And make it all public!

  14. Vagabond says:

    The 2007-08 Annual Report came out.Interesting that all sports GPA’s were not listed.How come?
    KUdo’s to Mens XC,which was tops with 3.4 and Wrestling was the worst at 2.6 GPA for the men.The women were lead by Tennis at 3.233, with the lowest being basketball at 2.8 for the ladies. Where are the remaining programs to do a true comparison? Curious.

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