4th and Long at Rutgers

July 15, 2008

The Asbury Park Press has piled on the reckless Rutgers stadium expansion plan with an excoriating editorial that puts matters this way: “It’s a project that shouldn’t have gone this far in the first place. The 13,000-seat expansion plan was formulated and approved behind closed doors. As other sports and courses are cut, university officials are banking on the recent strength of the football program to carry over and pay for the construction loans. But as many national champions have found, a few good seasons don’t mean continued success. That gamble, if the state university has to be bailed out, could cost the state taxpayers — and future students — plenty.”

What part of acting like an institution of higher education don’t president Slick McCormick and the BoG understand?

Rutgers is crumbling, literally. The state budget is a mess. Taxpayers are angry. The demand for expanded seating at Rutgers Stadium is unproven — and we doubt there is sustainable demand.

Wake up and smell the jockstraps!

Send the bulldozers home. Stop the madness. And let Rutgers return to being a university.


Stop Hiding the Financial Truth About College Athletics

May 19, 2008

Stunning” — that is Indian University professor Murray Sperber’s pithy summation of the depth of the financial losses associated with college athletics, per the recent NCAA document, “2004-06 NCAA Revenue and Expenses of Division I Intercollegiate Athletics Program Report.” The fantasy is over: big-time college sports lose big-time money. Period. End of story. And that hurts education. As Sperber writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “The reality, which the NCAA now acknowledges, is that institutional subsidies for intercollegiate athletics usually come out of funds that could go to academic purposes.”

Says Sperber: “The seas of athletics-department red ink are growing as fast as the oceans are rising from melting polar ice caps.”

Question: why hasn’t Rutgers reported on exactly how much money it loses on football?

Why are these numbers top secret?

There is no doubt that Rutgers has lost tens of millions of dollars on football in the past two decades — but are the losses even steeper?

As a first step in bringing transparency to Rutgers finances, McCormick-Mulcahy owe it to the university community — and to the state’s taxpayers who are left holding this expensive sack — to honestly report the scope of the losses on football.

Step two is to present a coherent plan for ending those losses — but our advice is, don’t hold your breath on that one. There is no plan. Not even a dream. The losses are forever…just as Rutgers’ academics continue to plummet.

Thanks to a reader for sending up a pointer to Sperber’s column. Tips are appreciated. Send them here.

Rutgers Fails Its Audit Exam

May 18, 2008

The Asbury Park Press editorializes vigorously against chronic, lax financial oversight at Rutgers. The editorial explicitly points to the $11,000 wasted on in-room movies and telephone calls enjoyed by guests of the football program at the Texas Bowl as a prime example of conspicuously stupid consumption.

But as become more evident, the McCormick administration honestly has no idea where Rutgers’ money goes. No idea whatsoever.  Read the Gannett reporting on the cavalcade of ignorant waste that characterizes Rutgers under McCormick.

How much shame does spending on football have to bring the university before somebody blows the whistle?

Joe Cryan, why aren’t you holding hearings on waste at Rutgers as it pursues Mulcahy’s Folly?

Lonely Being Luicci

May 3, 2008

Two days later and the Ledger’s Tom Luicci still is the only journalist reporting that Rutgers season ticketholders renewed at a staggering 99% rate, despite the recession, despite $4/gallon gasoline.

The only source cited in Luicci’s article was a self-interested Rutgers official (earning around $156,000, incidentally), whose pay comes because he is a flack for Mulcahy’s Folly. No external validation was offered. No corroboration. No proof of any kind. Just a flack’s word.

Do the Google News search yourself.

Note to the Scarlet Nation folks: the Feldman piece (ESPN) that turns up in the Google News search carefully attributes the 99% figure to Luicci. Journalists do that when they are hesitant about the facts. You folks wouldn’t know that because, well, you don’t know much that isn’t on your own myopic little message boards. The post that gleefully cites Feldman as disproving our point is in this thread. Sigh. We know there is no profit in arguing with message board posters but, sometimes, the impulse to educate carries us forward anyway.

But, we suppose, this post regarding Feldman stands as a prime exemplar of the Aronson thesis — where dissonance reduction is a life purpose for some. Good going! Do you think this was a witty for-instance of irony? A conscious attempt to win the Rutgers 1000 t-shirt?

OK, neither do we.

As for the bigger issue — the alleged 99% season ticket renewal rate — what there isn’t is new reporting confirming the 99% figure. The Home News, APP, Bergen Record, etc. are sitting on their hands. If the 99% figure is true, it’s an important story.


What do other journalists smell that Tom didn’t?

No $ for Art, Plenty for Football

May 3, 2008

Tell us what is right with this picture.  Ledger columnist Mark Di Ionno writes that the Corzine budget may cut arts funding 100% in many cases — but then there is the case of Rutgers football, a money-losing enterprise that aspires to mediocrity and for it the checks are blank and John Q citizen is simply forced to sign.  Rutgers football loses upwards of $3 million every year and there is no end in sight.  Even President McCormick admits the likelihood of football turning a profit is slim to none: “We’re not doing this to make money,” McCormick told the Bergen Record.

Even if the reckless, cockamamie stadium expansion manages to happen, that won’t change a thing. Every dime brought in by the new seats would be needed to pay off the bonds sold to finance the project.

And then there are arts.  Last year, New Jersey awarded some $25 million to various arts groups and to fund municipal arts projects.  This is not money that is wasted.  $2 billion in economic activity resulted, per Di Ionno.

That all looks to end in Corzine’s austerity budget.

What economic good comes from Rutgers football?  Certainly it benefits Coach Schiano — now New Jersey’s highest paid public employee, on the basis of a lifetime losing record.  But who else is coming out a winner?

Not Rutgers students who, this fall, will see more classes cut and more teachers fired as Rutgers digests yet more cuts to academic budgets.

But still the money gushes on football.

Cui bono?

And so we wonder: what is right with this picture?

The 99% Lie?

May 2, 2008

Amidst claims by the Rutgers Athletic Dept that a staggering 99% of season ticket holders renewed, doubters are raising their voices about the veracity of this claim — including posters on the booster board at Rivals. Read this intriguing thread where at least some boosters sense there is more (or less) to the 99% figure than meets the eye.

The 99% is truly hallucinogenic. In the midst of a deepening recession, with gasoline prices creeping towards $4 per gallon, this kind of renewal rate is mindboggling.

If it is true.

For our part, we wonder why no newspaper other than the Ledger ran with this story…and we further wonder when the AD’s office will release some kind of verifiable data to support these extraordinary claims.

We imagine our wait will resemble Al Gore’s wait for an honest Florida ballot count.

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.