Raining Bad News on Rutgers: Mulcahy III’s Legacy

July 31, 2008

The terrible press continues to pour on Rutgers and its athletic director, Mulcahy III, he of the air of scumbag entitlement. From today’s clippings:

* “Show Us The Money.” The Asbury Park Press editorializes about the farce the Seatbelt Corzine-Elizabeth Ray Lesniak private fundraising has degenerated into. The best line in the piece: “How many ways are there to illustrate the word ‘debacle’? It looks like the Rutgers stadium project might have a lock on many of them.”

* “Corzine and ethics don’t mix.” An editorial in Gannett’s central Jersey papers, posted at MyCentralJersey.com. The best line in this editorial about the private fund raising debacle: “the governor has proven to be just like so many others, believing ethical restraints are for other people. He makes up the rules that apply to himself as he goes along.” Are you reading, Seatbelt Corzine?

No one remembers a time when so many newspapers across the state joined in editorializing with so much agreement. Rutgers does not need this reckless and wasteful stadium expansion, few want it, and what people do want is accountability and transparency in Rutgers affairs coupled with a push for more investment in academics. It really is time to give Mulcahy III that imitation Rolex in a midnight retirement ceremony in Piscataway. Kick him in the rear, and let’s get moving to repair the damage he has inflicted on Rutgers.

New anti-Mulcahy-McCormick groups keep forming too. Freshly up on the web is Rutgers Watch, with an indepth look at the old Jocksniffer Gamper and Slick McCormick’s flatulent wee special committee on athletics spending. Do you think they’ll sit on whoopie cushions at their meetings? Just to set the right, proper tone?


A House of Cards Aflutter

July 11, 2008

Another shoe is dropping on the reckless Rutgers stadium expansion as Trenton warlord Ray Lesniak (himself a Rutgers alum) is quoted in the Star Ledger expressing profound worry about the economics: “Lesniak yesterday said if Rutgers plans to increase the overall cost of the project beyond $102 million, ‘I’d want to find out where the additional dollars are going to come from.’ He said he doubts additional money could either be found in state coffers or collected through his current fundraising campaign.”

The Ledger, meantime, reports that insiders are saying stadium construction bids came in promiscuously over budget — at least $18 million (17%) over the initial $102 million plan.

Where is that extra money coming from?

Right now, nobody even knows where the $30 million Lesniak and Gov. Seatbelt Corzine supposedly are raising in private contributions is in fact coming from. Supposedly they’ve raised less cash than you’d expect to see in a Skid Row mission collection box (thus Lesniak’s — “don’t look at me” when asked about the extra monies now needed to pursue stadium expansion).

According to reporter Pat Alex in the Bergen Record, Corzine and Lesniak have raised $250,000 of the $30 million (and keep in mind Corzine personally pledged $1 million). That’s some showing of intense fan support!

Alex also reports that Rutgers so far has spent $13 million on the stadium work done thus far — money that Rutgers is forced to borrow.

And she throws in this zinger: “‘This is a debacle; they already dug up half the place and now they find they don’t have the money for construction,’’ said the source with knowledge of the plans. He said the university went ahead with construction without firm plans or financing in place. ‘“It’s out of control,’ he said.”

What’s the likely scenario for Rutgers stadium now? Expect delay, delay, and more delay. Even sports mad Louisville has stumbled with its football stadium expansion — and that is despite a $10 million donation by the Papa Johns founder. In New Brunswick, we hear the biggest single donation so far has been 72 Miller Lite beer cans, empty but good for the recycling monies!

At Old Queens, senior administrators are apparently ducking for cover as the farcical stadium expansion plans blow up in their faces. Heads will roll, we hear, and mutterings on College Ave. say 70 year-old Sweaty Mulcahy III may be in line to take the fall. For him of course this is deja vu all over again because his dismissal from the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority reportedly was triggered by chronic over-spending.

Either way — this situation will only get uglier. The $18 million excess is just round one in a state where public construction never comes in on budget. Some experts are muttering the eventual price would top $150 million, assuming Phase 2 of the expansion actually happens. Our bet is that it won’t, not with the state’s coffers already empty and Rutgers forced to lay off teachers and cancel classes just to make up the latest round of state budget cuts.

At least we are in for mirthful times. Watching Mulcahy III, Slick McCormick, and Schiano wrestling with high finance is as deep a belly laugh as watching the Three Stooges try to explain Godel’s Incompletenesss Theorems. Pass the popcorn, we can’t wait for this show to start.

Rutgers To Stadium Expansion: Drop Dead

July 10, 2008

“It’s a nightmare,” one Rutgers insider told Gannett reporter Christine Sparta. She also reports this: “‘The stadium is way behind schedule. The stadium is supposed to be completed by September 2009, and they haven’t laid down a brick yet,’ said another insider who speculated about a hefty $150 million price tag.” And there has been no progress in raising the $30 million in private funding needed for the expansion when the budget was a more modest $100+ million. Upsizing that private contribution target to try to balance this budgetary mess would make as much sense as balancing a household budget on the assumption of a Megamillions win. Rutgers football fans just have not opened their wallets to support this project — presumably because (although they can be vocal in their vapidity) there just aren’t very many diehards.

The state is plummeting into a deep recession. Rutgers football is an unproven attraction (will fans use $4/gallon gasoline to drive to see the Scarlet Knights, a second-tier football team on its better days?). The coach has a lifetime losing record. Construction costs — for materials primarily — are multiplying. New Jersey’s public budget is in chaos. What started as a risky, speculative deal a year ago, now — clearly — is a sucker’s play. Of course the university’s powers — Slick McCormick, Sweaty Mulcahy III — insist the expansion will go ahead, albeit in a “scaled down” version. Right.

What they don’t tell us is in what century this expansion will occur. It likely won’t be this one. We know that much.

It’s time to officially declare the Rutgers football fantasy over and done.

Even fans of the expansion are squabbling as blaming fingers begin to point and the hunt commences for a fall guy (Mulcahy III, is that a bullseye on your back?). Gov. Seatbelt Corzine is telling people he hears even the Phase I expansion — luxury boxes — won’t be ready at the season’s start. Mulcahy III disagrees. Or so reports the Ledger.

Newspapers across the country are diving on this story.  As word percolates among Rutgers football’s recent commits, how fast do you think they will begin to decommit?  Frankly, they would be crazy not to open their ears to recruiters from other programs because the message is clear: the Rutgers bigtime sports bubble is bursting.

Our bets:

* Sweaty Mulcahy III, at 70 years of age, soon will announce his retirement. He reportedly was booted out of a job before (as CEO of the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority). He knows how to make an exit.

* Phase II of the stadium expansion will be postponed “indefinitely”

* Together, those steps will represent a de facto downgrading of the Rutgers football program.

We’ll cheer all of that! In fact our party mood is so festive we just may crack open a keg at the Rutgers 1000 world headquarters and break into singing On the Banks!

Trenton to NJ’s Sick: Drop Dead

July 7, 2008

Despite aggressive and grandiose funding of football at Rutgers, the state’s politicians — from Jon “Seatbelt” Corzine on down — are loud and clear on one point of fiscal frugality: forget about funding for the Garden State’s hospitals. Matters are so grave that the Washington Post today reported — in a piece entitled “Without Funds, N.J. Hospitals Face Crisis” — that “If the country is facing a nationwide health-care crisis, then the condition in New Jersey can be described as gravely critical.”

Trenton of course has issued a blank check to fund Rutgers football, as state government warlords jockey to see who can be the bigger jocksniffer.

Just as the state is fiercely failing its college students — through Hannibal Lecter-style budget cuts that have robbed Rutgers and the other senior publics in NJ of most shreds of excellence — Round 2 of Trenton v. the People is seeing Trenton giving the finger to the state’s ill, its dying, its hurt.

For the sick in NJ our advice is now exactly the same as what we tell NJ high school seniors: head out of state. Just as you won’t get a good education at Rutgers…you won’t get good care at NJ’s hospitals.