Stadium Expansion, RIP

Rutgers today essentially acknowledged the Big Bobby Mulcahy reign as athletic director has been an expensive joke (with the laughs on the NJ taxpayers), as the university — in a sweeping statement reported by the Star Ledger — took multiple steps to remove all decisionmaking from Mulcahy.  For months we have said he would be fired.  Perhaps we got that wrong.  It seems he will get to keep the big office for now, but nobody will have to listen to him.  Call that fired but still on the payroll.

Key among the announcements:

* “the university said the meltdown in financial markets is having a serious impact on its ability to finance the ongoing expansion of its controversial football stadium expansion project — and officials say they are now looking at various options to address those issues.”  Mark it down: that stadium expansion is RIP, has been for weeks now.  Word is that once this season comes to its miserable end, there will be a quiet announcement that the expansion has been “delayed.”  Until when?  No announcement will be made in that regard.  Consider this cockamamie plan DOA.

In an email from McCormick to faculty today, the president writes: “We are taking a hard look at all our facilities projects to be sure we proceed prudently, including the expansion of Rutgers Stadium. Fundraising for the project has gone more slowly than we had hoped, and borrowing for all capital projects has become harder and more expensive. I have therefore asked University Facilities and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics to develop options for the stadium that would continue to place priority on constructing additional seats while reducing the overall cost. When we have more information, we will be able to decide how to complete the project in an economic fashion.”  That is high-level administrator double-talk for: we can’t afford it and we won’t build it but we are hunting for a soft landing to make the announcement go down easier.

* The Ledger reporting continues: “In a detailed plan laid out by Rutgers University president Richard L. McCormick, the state institution will expand its internal audit department, require legal review of all future athletic department sponsorship deals, create new policies to ensure contracts and procurement deals are not compromised by conflicts of interest and set up a university-wide review of all “high-level” compensation packages to determine which ones need to be approved by the board directly.”  Translated what this says is that Big Bobby Mulcahy will not be allowed to sign off on ludicrous $20 million dollar deals with the likes of Greedy Greg Schiano.  Adult — intelligent — supervision will be required before Mulcahy is allowed to play with crayons again.

Per the Ledger: “McCormick said the new layers of oversight he proposed were aimed at addressing recent revelations about contracts and compensation in the athletics department.”  Indeed…but these steps are also a last ditch effort to keep Rutgers at a remove from more direct Trenton supervision, as legislators — increasingly and loudly — have been complaining about the lack of governance at Rutgers and the waste of millions upon millions of public dollars by an athletic department that has been out of control.

In the Bergen Record, reporter Pat Alex delivers even more troubling news: “President Richard McCormick said more state aid cuts also could be looming for Rutgers, prompting his administration to warn of mid-year reductions in the university’s operating budget.”  Wow:  these cuts may come on top of the deep cuts implemented at the start of the semester.  That would mean more layoffs, more classes cancelled, and more deterioration in Rutgers academics.

Alex also reports: “The credit crunch — which has increased the cost of borrowing — will force the university to take a ‘hard look’ at all building projects, said McCormick. Perhaps the most high-profile of those projects is the $102 million plan to expand the football stadium by 14,000 seats.”  And of course it will be the first to be cut, if only because nobody can actually believe a losing Rutgers football team will pack the stadium next year.  That’s over.

Alex deftly twisted this knife: “Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano will be paid $1.9 million this year under the terms of his contract and is also entitled to a number of costly perks, including money for housing and a car.

After three successful seasons that saw the team head to bowl games, the Scarlet Knights have faltered this year with a 1-5 start. Likewise, private fundraising for the stadium — spearheaded by Governor Corzine and state Senator Ray Lesniak — has also sputtered.”

Boosters, meantime, are in full despair, as even they seem to dimly realize that their day is done.  Call this the day the Mulcahy Era officially ended, and when Rutgers began a slow return to putting academics first.

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9 Responses to Stadium Expansion, RIP

  1. RC91 says:

    As a former fan of RU academics–despite my love/hate for the football program–I will declare the following: more disappointing than this season’s “atypical Knight’s performance” is the absolute lackluster performance of our academicians!

    Since 1991, I have watched as our beloved university and college have all but disappeared from the leading echelons of academia. All, of course, except bits and pieces of the English department–things like “Shakespearean Metaphysical Spatiality”–have vanished!

    Blame this on the rise of the football program!? Come on.

    My advice is–pull your heads out of your pc-asses (I am as liberal as Kapodistrias!), stop whining and for once let RU take at least one project to completion! A national championship should be everyone’s goal. Don’t like it? Go to Oberlin College (sp?) and teach lesbians! (not that there is anything wrong with that ))…give RU a chance! And then, bask in the national limelight and sell your academics to the little Asian geniuses of suburban California and Indian overachievers of Detroit. You guys have not done much to get our reputation as far along as the football program has and TOO-SMART, PC-PROFESSORS HAVE ABOUT AS MUCH LOYLALTY AND COMMITMENT AS THE VAST “SILENT MAJORITY” IN NAZI GERMANY DID TO BASIC, HUMAN GOODNESS (“we didn’t know what was going on…”)

    So, go RU football!! Obama in 2008!

  2. MM says:

    RC91
    Your eloquent comments warrant no response. Thanks, though, for helping prove RU1000’s point.
    RU now ranked 100 by Rivals in football and 64th by US News & National Reports in national universities. Just a first class university all around. And, such a gorgeous campus.

  3. Huck Finne says:

    RC91,

    Sports versus academics is a zero sum game. That is, Rutgers can’t have them both. RU1000 picks academics. Schiano obviously chooses athletics. If you are going to continue to believe that we can have both, you must lead the campaign to raise taxes in New Jersey to support it. In case you hadn’t noticed, there is not a plethora of money to support either of these options.

  4. RC91 says:

    Dear MM and Huck Finne–to your responses I say:

    When I called the banks my home, we were ranked higher than 64. Check the archives. And our football team was then also horrific under the tutelage of Coach Anderson, I believe? As for the beauty of the campus: aggree.

    Zero-sum in your argument actually haves no place. What you wanted to say was that “in your opinion, invesments in big time athletics is not good for the university”–zero-sum assumes that GAINS WILL BE OFFSET BY LOSSES. How can this be true in this situation? What gain from the football team’s past 2 years of fair play has resulted in a loss to the academic side? If we are talking about the loss of professors, ok, cannot this loss be offset by gains made in more attention being paid to the university from the point of view of top students from all over America and not just the tri-state area?

    When did the academic decline commence? When did the investment in a big time program begin? Show us the correlation. And, finally, USC is more highly ranked than RU; Stanford; Michigan; the list goes on!

    Those with loyalty to the university are few, sadly. Even many of my fellow football fans will soon, if this play continues, switch back to the NFL.

    Love your academics and with your passion make it amazing! We will love and hate our football team and maybe the same will come true. Competition is good! You guys had the purse strings for decades prior to Schiano (pronounced “Skiano”–his people come from the island of Ischia off Naples–every third person there is named Schiano!) and where were we in the rankings?

  5. RC91 says:

    USC and the others have higher rankings not ONLY in football but also ACADEMICS–that was my point…zero-sum not relevant.

  6. Grumpy Alum says:

    RC91, your comments just prove to me that nobody – nobody – can muster a serious case for continuing with this $100 Million white elephant. Not only do I expect to see expansion abandoned, I expect to see heads roll in the next two years as the fiscal crisis that Rutgers has dug itself into becomes ever more apparent.

  7. Huck Finne says:

    RC91,

    The argument you’re putting forth is known as the “What about Duke argument.” I don’t have the time to extract your head from your rear, but in the end it comes down to a few examples do not “prove” that Rutgers can in fact have both great academics and great athletics.

  8. RC91 says:

    Huck,

    I like my head where it is thank you. And, A “FEW EXAMPLES”? Come on! What was the last great thing RU did academically? And, when? And did that person land on Nixon’s enemies list?

  9. Anonymous says:

    RC91’s argument sounds something like this. “The academics haven’t done anything, so we might as well let the football team take over.”

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