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.

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.

Calling Dick McCormick: Rankings Disaster Zone

April 1, 2008

The new US News & World Report graduate study rankings are out and — aarggh! Dick, where art thou? Rutgers’ claim to academic leadership is disintegrating before our eyes.

You will recall — we recall — you telling the New York Times in 1990, back when you were dean of faculty:

“The financial difficulties at Rutgers came at a time when the institution seemed to be making significant strides in gaining the respect it so covets. Dr. McCormick said that the departments of political science, chemistry, psychology and computer science were on the brink of achieving the national prominence already enjoyed by its departments of English, history, philosophy, physics and astronomy, and mathematics, and that many others had well-developed plans in place to make the leap.

“‘This is the shame of it all,’ he said. ‘There are a number of departments that are in that position. They have every legitimate academic reason to make that jump in the early 90’s, but the dollars aren’t there.’”

18 years later and into the 6th year of your presidency, how is Rutgers faring?

Not very well, thank you, at least not academically.

Ah, “the shame of it all,” to borrow McCormick the youngster’s rhetoric.

The Philosophy Dept. remains second-best in the English-speaking world (tied with Oxford). This is per PGR, the accepted rating service. (USN&WR does not rank philo depts.) Philosophy has been Rutgers’ best department for perhaps 15 years, long before McCormick’s presidency.

Criminology, at Newark-Rutgers, probably is the university’s next best program — it ranks 4th in the US News & World Report ranking.

Next up, English, at #16, a ranking unchanged in decades.

History follows at #17. No real change in decades.

Math is down to #24. Physics is now #26.

Then things start really slipping. Political Science, cited by McCormick as on the brink of excellence, ranks #41.

Chemistry is #68.

Computer Sciences is #31.

Psychology is #77.

Biological Sciences rank #48.

The two law schools (gasp) are tied at #77

The business school is #45.

Engineering is #52.

At Rutgers, climbing into national prominence under McCormick palpably has become a hashish dream, mere wisps of smoky hope — and for most chairs, no matter how reasonable their plans, the climb is about as likely as scaling Mt. Everest in January in the thick of the Nepalese winter.

Gentlemen, ladies, settle back in your chairs and pick up that Richard Farina book, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me.

We suppose the one bit of good news is that just about every academic department ranks higher than the money-pit of ineffectualness that is men’s basketball (ranked #197, per Sagarin).

But where might these departments rank were money stripped away from sports and put into academics? That is what you call a rhetorical question because we know it isn’t happening as long as Dick McCormick is Rutgers’ president, even as he pulls the school along in pursuit of his apparent goal of transforming Rutgers into the Louisville of the North.

Don’t forget our mission statement:

O Commit to a pledge that, by 2015, Rutgers will have 15 academic programs nationally ranked in the top 15…20 by 2020, and 25 by 2025. Put academics first and mean it.

Difficult? You bet — but does one of the nation’s richest and best-educated states deserve less?

Deferred Maintenance Crisis

March 31, 2008

The disrepair of the Rutgers campus is starkly visible to anybody who bothers to take a 10 minute stroll down College Avenue — but the Record newspaper has wrapped enormously disquieting numbers around the breadth and extent of the deferred maintenance that has turned Rutgers into a slum. About a half-billion dollars would be needed to set Rutgers’ infrastructure right, says the Record: “It is estimated that nearly a billion dollars in maintenance needs to be done at public colleges and universities statewide. About half of that is at Rutgers University, where there are 650 buildings, some dating to the 1700s, at the flagship campus in New Brunswick-Piscataway.”

Buildings literally are rotting before our eyes, as Rutgers confronts the perilous conjunction of dwindling state support and an aging physical plant. Decay and deterioration are the inevitable by-products and there is no easy fix for the state’s broken economics.

Under these circumstances, pursuing a $100+ million football stadium expansion — with unproven fan support and no clear way to re-pay the construction bonds — seems rather like taking out a loan to add a backyard swimming pool when the house is heading into foreclosure. That might make sense in the Three Stooges economics of McCormick, Mulcahy and Schiano, but in the real world of a crumbling New Jersey economy, the stadium expansion can only be viewed as wrongheaded prioritizing on a Caliguan scale.

What part of stop wasting money on a reckless and futile pursuit of big-time sports don’t the university’s leaders in Old Queens understand?