Getting their kicks at our expense

May 21, 2008

Ledger columnist Fran Wood explores the disingenuous voodoo accounting whereby Rutgers loses money paying for dry cleaning for guests at the Texas Bowl…but it lacks the cash to pay for the 6 Olympic sports or for much of anything academic. When Rutgers loses money on football — and all three bowl appearances in the Schiano era have been money losers — who picks up the tab? Students and taxpayers.

As Wood writes: “It’s hard to miss the arrogance here — the same arrogance that had construction machinery virtually idling on Rutgers’ campus even as the university and Legislature were theoretically still undecided about whether to undertake the current stadium expansion.

The same arrogance that says it doesn’t matter that the last $30 million for this expansion hasn’t been raised yet. Thirty million? Don’t sweat it. It’s for football. It’ll show up.

This at a school so strapped for cash that it killed six varsity sports to save a tiny fraction of $30 million. At a school that dropped dozens of teachers and hundreds of courses.”

Read the whole column.  It nicely highlights the absurd and ignorant arrogance that fuels the jock-sniffing decisionmaking that now rules at Rutgers.  It’s a nice piece, read it.


Proof: College Football is linked to crime

May 6, 2008

The research is in: college football is starkly linked to fan violence and anti-social behavior, per this January 2008 research paper out of the University of Colorado. The authors — economists Dan Rees and Kevin Schnepel — write: “Our results suggest that the host community registers sharp increases in assaults on game days. In addition, there is evidence that vandalism, arrests for disorderly conduct, and alcohol-related arrests increase on game day.”

This is a detailed, 42-page analysis of crime data and college football.

Hello, New Brunswick, ready for a rumble? You had better be. Where there is big-time college football, there are sharp spikes in crime, simple as that.  Drunken, rowdy, criminally-minded fans rampaging through city streets are an inevitable by-product of big-time football.  Sounds extreme?

Wharton School professor Justin Wolfers, writing about the research in the New York Times, says: “the study is quite convincing. It is worth noting that these results occur despite the fact that the football programs they analyze ban the sale of alcohol in the stadium.”

Hear an interview with the researchers here. Look on the site for the audio icon.

The results reported in this research are frightening. For instance, on game days with an upset loss, assaults increased 112%, per the researchers.

Write the authors: “our results indicate that college football games lead to increased arrests for alcohol-related offenses and disorderly conduct (the Group B offenses). Home games are associated with a 13 percent increase in arrests for drunk driving, a 41 percent increase in arrests for disorderly conduct, and a 76 percent increase in arrests for liquor law violations.”

Here are charts that make all the violence associated with college football vivid.

The data in this groundbreaking paper are horrifying — and they ought to be ample to sober up Old Queens and get the administration off its jock-sniffing bender.

“Unsportsmanlike Conduct!”

April 29, 2008

Kudos to the DAILY RECORD newspaper for editorially calling the Rutgers Stadium expansion what it is: a flagrant foul against the university’s students and NJ taxpayers. As the Record states: “It’s a shame that we can’t throw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct and send the project back 15 yards.” Indeed. Read the full editorial here, and know that — as the local recession deepens and taxpayers grow more angry about a government that is hideously wasteful — this stadium expansion will loom as an indelible symbol of how Rutgers’ elites are hopelessly out of touch. This is a state that last November shot down a perfectly sound initiative to fund stem cell research, but the jock-sniffers in Old Queens and on the BoG did not get the message that the citizenry is fed up with blank check government. You could not ask for a better for-instance of out-of-control public spending than this headlong dash to spend $100+ million on a stadium in the absence of both the money and a quality football team that will fill the extra seats. The one saving aspect is that it won’t be long before we get the pleasure of watching McCormick and Mulcahy do the Trenton version of a perp walk as their careers are crushed by a stadium that sits half empty Saturday after Saturday.

Memo to Joe Cryan: this is the hearing you have dreamed about. Lights, cameras, action — and a roomful of mumbling, inarticulate Rutgers bureaucrats who cannot possibly justify their reckless stadium gambit.

Incidentally, there is quite funny caterwauling by boosters in this Rivals thread which attacks the Record and this thread which jumps to the defense of the much troubled stadium expansion contractor.

The Missing $30 Million

April 24, 2008

Just where is that $30 million in private contributions to build the stadium expansion coming from? A Star Ledger article says the cash is nowhere in sight.  Associate Press later moved a story that underscored the Ledger’s concerns.

Isn’t it time to pull the plug on Mulcahy’s folly?

Of course we are also waiting for the other shoe to drop, that is, for Rutgers to admit it cannot find buyers for the $70+ million in construction bonds needed to build the expansion.

That will leave students and NJ taxpayers to pick up this wasteful outlay of $100+ million — unless the plug is firmly pulled on this silly monument to Schiano’s out-sized (and under-performing) ego.  As reported by AP:

“This raises the specter that New Jersey taxpayers will be called upon to pay for the expansion, if private donations do not materialize,” said Assemblyman Richard Merkt, R-Morris. “I will not support making the taxpayers bear this added burden.”

Would you commit to a $50,000 kitchen remodel without having some idea of where the money would come from? No thinking person would but thinking seems a rare talent amongst the jock-sniffing Rutgers administrators and Board of Governors.

The one BoG member who voted against the stadium expansion plan, George Zoffinger, ironically is the only one with experience manging large capital projects. As the Bergen Record quoted him:

“I would never go forward — as someone who has built $100 million buildings — with a project like this,” Zoffinger said. He said the plans didn’t allow enough wiggle room for cost overruns and that the private fund raising was by no means assured.

“You’ve got to set some priorities,” Zoffinger said. “This whole borrow, borrow, borrow has gotten New Jersey into the condition it’s in.”

Sigh. It is difficult to express exactly how reckless and foolhardy this expansion is — but the bottomline is that the money is nowhere near in hand.

Another blogger wonders how a state that borders on bankrupt and is forced to close public parks can even think about putting $100+ million into a stadium expansion. Alas, we cannot explain this, either. Nor do we know what to tell Rutgers students who, come fall, will find many classes canceled because professors had to be fired to balance Rutgers’ falling budget.

The one bright spot are the guffaws to be had reading the booster message boards as posters express shock that the citizenry isn’t tripping over themselves in haste to fund Mulcahy’s folly. These boosters apparently keep their hands firmly in their own pockets because, amidst the angst-ridden bravado, there are no pledges of big money contributions to revive this dying stadium plan.

Our favorite so far, from a poster who writes under the name AreYouNuts: Honestly, the Pennsy primary is over and there’s time and space to be filled on the airwaves and in the papers, hence, a bunch of NOTHING was put together.

F* ’em is what I say!!”

When in doubt…curse.

Maybe that same strategy will work when the stadium contractors persist in presenting bills for work — and RU has nothing but an empty-handed one-finger salute to offer in return.

We have said it before, we will say it again: the stadium expansion — in the midst of a recession that is devastating the New Jersey economy — is so stupid it borders on criminality.

Cui bono?

Let Them Eat Termites!

April 18, 2008

Tens of thousands, millions, who knows how many termites there are, but residents of Davidson Residence Halls on the Busch Campus insist their rooms are overrun with the things. Right there is the paradox of Rutgers. Promiscuous spending on a football stadium is proceeding with shameless abandon, while paces away students’ dorm rooms are literally being eaten from under them — and seemingly no one in the administration gets the message this sends to students. Or maybe nobody cares.

Rutgers — literally — is rotting. The infrastructure is crumbling. The Busch bug infestation is just one of a myriad instances of decay — but there is no shortage of money for sports at Rutgers, from the reckless $100+ million stadium expansion to the Hale Center $12.5 million expansion.

Talk about cockamamie priorities but on a campus where jock-sniffers rule, this is what you can expect to get. It won’t get better until there is housecleaning at the top. That is reality.

As Princeton president Robert Goheen told the Notre Dame president who had asked how Notre Dame could become an academically excellent institution — “‘First, fire the football coach.”

Too bad Dick McCormick didn’t seek Goheen’s advice before he passed.

Rivals Quotation of the Week

March 26, 2008

“How does a group whose mission statement refers to the administration as ‘jock-sniffers’ expect to be taken seriously?” Posted by LawMatt78 at the Scarlet Nation website.

We have a question in a similar vein: how does an administration of jock-sniffers expect to be taken seriously?

It’s a serious question for Rutgers president Dick McCormick and, we are afraid, nobody takes his administration very seriously anyway, not since the unfortunate revelations that he took the Rutgers job because the Washington Regents had shown him the door.

Read the Rivals thread. It is filled with caterwauling about this site…but not a word about scholarship, or the increasing lack thereof, at Rutgers. But why should there be, in a sports-crazed online world that is satisfied with a Potemkin Village of intellectually hollow classrooms to dress up the sweaty Saturdays.