Don’t they teach simple arithmetic at Rutgers? You’d think that Slick Dick McCormick and his cronies on the BoG would have gotten the message that now is no time to talk about pouring $100 million into a stadium expansion no one wants. It makes as little sense as a homeowner facing foreclosure who decides what he needs is a huge home equity loan to build a mammoth new garage and to buy an equally mammoth RV to park in it. At least that home owner actually has a plan for filling the garage. Rutgers has no plan for filling any new seating, other than continued reference to “the waiting list” — which of course was created when the program was on an upswing, not today’s Big East cellar-dweller. Rutgers even is telling gullible reporters the waiting list has increased by 700 — but it’s impossible to fall off the list so nobody can say the 12,000+ on the list have any current interest in tickets (or that they they even have jobs),
Even the richest schools are scaling back in today’s economy, per today’s NYTimes piece, Financial Straits of Boosters Hit Athletic Programs: “Like the chief executives on Wall Street, leaders of collegiate athletic programs must acknowledge that the boom days of fund-raising have given way to belt-tightening.
‘Adjustments have to take place and look bleak in the short term,’ said Joe Castiglione, Oklahoma’s athletic director.”
Saturday’s NYTimes had another piece, Rising Criticism as Rutgers Invests in Athletics. As the school literally crumbles and tuition skyrockets, critics are asking: why put money into the sports sinkhole? $500 million in basic physical plant maintenace has been deferred…and yet the McCormick administration continues to mumble support for athletics spending. Talk about fuzzy logic! “They had one good year, and everybody said this is the beginning of a trend,” said George R. Zoffinger, a member of the university’s Board of Governors and the chairman of its audit committee, which completed a report in February criticizing the athletic department for poor financial oversight. “One year doesn’t make a trend. That’s the problem.”
New Jersey will be particularly savaged by the nation’s economic collapse. The Ledger writes: “A quarter-million jobs lost. Another year of falling house prices. A multi-billion dollar hole in the state budget.
Those were the grim predictions delivered Monday by economic experts and the governor as they analyzed the impact of Wall Street’s collapse on New Jersey’s economy.”
“This isn’t a recession,” added Kenneth Goldstein, economist for The Conference Board. “This is something worse.”
Even Seatbelt Corzine acknowledges the state faces a multi-billion dollar budget deficit — and there are no ideas about how to close that gap without inflicting pain on millions of state residents.
Nationally, the country’s imploded economy is hitting sports, hard, per this Reuters story. “Smaller crowds are only the first domino to fall for U.S. sports leagues, which could see lower corporate spending, flat or declining revenue and stagnant team values in a global recession, analysts said.”
Keep in mind that Rutgers has not been able to bond its stadium expansion and the school’s back of the envelope payback hinges on spectacularly Panglossian assumptions about attendance and the willingness of fans to absorb ticket hikes and increased parking fees. It’s all fantasy and the bottomline is: These are no times to be putting tens of millions into a sports program that is mired in misery.
Meantime, this blog was referenced in another NYTimes weekend piece. Columnist Peter Applebome writes: “In the immediate future, Rutgers is facing rising financing costs, a severe budget crunch and a depressed economy that has all but shut down the donations that were expected to help pay for the project. And the questions raised by The Star-Ledger of Newark about the financial management of Rutgers athletics have hurt the university’s credibility with the Legislature at a time when it most needs it.
Chances are the situation will get worse before it gets better.”
In the Ledger, Bob Braun gathers up glaring examples of fiscal irresponsibility on the part of the state’s public schools — and at Rutgers many of the most glaring for-instances revolve around the ethically troubled sports regime of Big Bobby Mulcahy, the man who cannot count straight.
And talking about counting…in polling at this site on Who is ruining Rutgers, we admit to puzzlement. Slick Dick McCormick has a huge lead over Big Bobby Mulcahy…but 1960s era historian Eugene Genovese has picked up a sprinkling of votes. Genovese of course was famous for proclaiming at a 1965 teach-in that he “welcomed” a Viet Cong victory and, in turn, this triggered a campaign by the state’s crypto-fascists to “rid Rutgers of Reds.” For our part, we want a campaign to rid Rutgers of boorish boosters (and while we’re at that, let’s dump McCormick and hire a real university president).