Secret State Money for Football

September 21, 2008

At the very time that Trenton has been slashing tens of millions of dollars for academics at Rutgers, the state has — on the hush hush — directed around $2.5 million to Rutgers with the secret stash of cash earmarked for athletics, per today’s report by Margolin and Sherman in the Star Ledger.

This revelation comes amidst Slick McCormick’s continuing mea culpas about a lack of transparency in the stewardship of athletics — but the report came not as a result of a confession by McCormick but due to digging by the Ledger reporters.  McCormick talks a good game of being open, but in practice he continues to hide, to deceive, and wouldn’t you if you had authorized pumping tens of millions of dollars into a laugher of a sports program and at the very time that Rutgers academics are crumbling (down five spots to #64 in US News & World reports in the last year alone)?

Write Margolin and Sherman:

“Direct state assistance to the university and its academic programs has been trimmed by more than $16.4 million over the past five years, according to the school.

‘I’m a big supporter of Rutgers athletics. I understand the need for money. But when tuition is going up 10 percent, you have to think twice before adding it to athletics,’ said state Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Essex), a member of the state Budget and Appropriations Committee.”


Stories about the athletic slush fund have spread nationally.  UPI reports here.  AP is here

And what has all this state money bought?  A wretched football team, so the laugh is on Trenton — and of course the laughs are even louder about the poor chumps who bought “luxury boxes.”

Even boosters are predicting that next Saturday’s game against Morgan State will play out before a half-empty stadium.

As Paul Franklin observes in the Gannett papers: “And so now the words of re grouping, of working harder, of not giving up, of being a family, all that continues to spoken.

So far, the bottom line is that none of those words are ringing true.

The truth right now is that Rutgers is not a good football team.”

We know the decision has been taken, now we are awaiting public announcement that the $100+ million stadium expansion has been canceled.  Amidst the region’s economic meltdown, coupled with on-field performance that proves this is no coach and no program built for success, there will be no wait list, there will be no sell outs, there will only be epic losses as Rutgers is saddled with many more years at $2 million per on Greedy Greg Schiano’s contract.  As the Ledger said of Schiano: “Just poor coaching there.”  And we can thank the eternally clueless Mulcahy III for the tens of millions contractually obligated to the incompetent Schiano.

Sagarin now slots Rutgers at 85th in the nation, and Schiano’s Stumblers are closing in on Syracuse as worst in the Big East.  Looking ahead, it is not inconceivable that Rutgers will win only one game (Morgan State)! Some showing for the tens of millions that have been pumped into the program by lifelong Trenton hack Mulcahy (an expert, apparently, in pork barrel politics but certainly not about sport).

Mulcahy, incidentally, will be fired before the school year finishes. We already hear the vultures flapping for carrion above his office.  The only successful athletic program at Rutgers is women’s basketball — which was successful long before Mulcahy arrived on the Banks and will be successful after he leaves.  He has had nothing whatsoever to do with that.  The programs he has touched — men’s basketball and football — are expensive jokes where the laughs are on Rutgers students and NJ taxpayers who are stuck with ever higher bills.  That realization has recently been sweeping through Trenton and, for Mulcahy, the clock ticks ever louder towards his personal doomsday.

If you missed it…yesterday’s loss to Navy was punctuated when qb Mike Teel took a swing at another Rutgers player.  Watch the punch here. Love that sportsmanship and how Rutgers is presented to a national audience! Tune into the post-game rationalizing here, as Schiano, Teel, et. al. insist “we are a family.”  So, incidentally, are the folks in August: Osage County. 

Schiano has refused to suspend Teel, per — “In my eyes, it could be a great teaching opportunity, as what not to do when frustration sets in and bubbles over,” Schiano said. “But Mike has apologized for what he did. There’s no excuse for what Mike did. It was inappropriate behavior and not something I or my coaching staff condones. But to make that the reason (to suspend Teel) doesn’t make sense. We’re a close-knit group and it was just an event that bubbled over. 

As a poster writes on the message board: “We do admit that watching the travails of this loser coach and his loser program is giving us more mirth than we had hoped for. Schiano is the perfect incompetent to match the incompetence of Mulcahy and McCormick. The Three Stooges of Piscataway, Perfect Together.”

Another poster observes: “Mulcahy ought to rename the team the Rutgers Unicorns for all the other fantasies he’d have you believe.”

A third poster claims to see striking parallels between Schiano and G W Bush — “One gives us financial armageddon. The other gives us football armageddon….But at least Bush is not being paid $2 million dollars a year.”

We ain’t got teachers, we ain’t got classrooms, but at least we still have our fans!

For closing thoughts, we like Dan Spitzer’s in As Rutgers football once again begins its descent into the abyss of mediocrity, and the well-to-do folks who are waging class warfare on the rest of us choke on their penne pasta and top-shelf liquors in disgust of the obvious embarrassment of watching the three “wise” men lead Rutgers into oblivion, I would like to paraphrase Bob Dylan by asking: “After they took from you everything . . . they could steal . . . how does it feel?”


McCormick 64, Rutgers Students 0

August 22, 2008

It’s official: Rutgers now ranks as the 64th university in the country, tied with Texas A & M and behind such powerhouse institutions of learning as Clemson, Pitt (#58), Georgia (#58), and Pepperdine (#56). That is per the newly released US News & World Report ratings.

That is a stunning five spot drop from the prior rankings. It also is a complete retreat from the Bloustein-era goal of making Rutgers “the Berkeley of the east” when, as recently as 1997, Rutgers ranked 45 in the nation.

Meantime, new rankings from Forbes peg Rutgers at a stomach-churning 469. That’s below Eastern Carolina, Azusa Pacific, and a pack of colleges you probably have never heard of. By Forbes’ reckoning, Rutgers is one of the nation’s worst colleges. Rutgers is ahead of the College of St. Benedict, tho.

The collapse of educational standards on the Banks in the Slick McCormick era is just about absolute, as the university and New Jersey’s taxpayers have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into football and the return on this investment is a bottom feeder football squad and a university that has fallen far from the top rank of publics. It’s a zero sum game. Put a dollar into football and it has to come from somewhere and that somewhere has been academics. The proof is how far Rutgers has sunk in the academic rankings.

Way to go Slick McCormick, you are well along your goal of transforming the once proud public Ivy into the Louisville of the north!

Just the other day Slick and Mulcahy III issued yet another of their self-serving press statements that concluded with this lovely thought, “Academics and athletics can reinforce each other, which is why Rutgers remains committed to excellence in both.”

Right. Call us when you see either. All we see is mounting mediocrity as the Trentonization of Rutgers moves into its final acts. Who needs top professors or students as long as there are plenty of jobs for political hangers-on? LaRue, Harris, Florio, et. al. — Arthur Kamin, onetime Rutgers Board of Trustee chair, has his finger pointed squarely at you. He writes:

Those jobs may be just the tip of the iceberg. The state and internal investigators should determine what other patronage positions exist, how they were filled and what political influence may have been used to secure employment for the bureaucrats looking to keep their state pensions and perks in force.

The probes of Mulcahy and the athletics department offer an opportunity for investigators to closely examine the political culture that has had a negative impact on Rutgers and other higher education institutions in New Jersey. The question is whether they’re up to the challenge.

Students in New Jersey: our advice is to go elsewhere to university. We no longer are comfortable recommending Rutgers to anybody who wants a collegiate learning experience. New Jersey’s budget crisis isn’t going away. Tuition will continue to go up at Rutgers, at the very time the university keeps cutting the academics to make up for dwindling state support. That is a perfect storm of scholastic ruination and you don’t need a Weatherman to know which way this ill wind blows.

Trenton Lowers Boom on Rutgers

August 21, 2008

Trenton has gotten the message — the Mulcahy III/Slick McCormick regime is all about lack of accountability and waste — and now Trenton just may want to see changes, pronto. That’s why Assembly Republican Budget Officer Joseph Malone is calling for full-blown hearings into spending by Rutgers Athletics aka the Schianogate Scandal of hidden payments, secret cash, and off the book transactions. Listen to these ominous words from PolitickerNJ: For years Rutgers officials have come before the budget committee and complained about being short-changed in the state budget process,” said Malone, R-Burlington, Ocean, Monmouth and Mercer. “Now we learn that the university is not even keeping track of money that was coming into the school.”

Malone goes on: “Mr. Mulcahy should be brought before these legislative committees and he should explain how much money was being handled off the books, where that money was being spent, and why that money was not being incorporated in the school’s budget,” Malone said. “Students at Rutgers who have been paying higher tuition costs, and state taxpayers who have been funding the university, deserve to have these questions answered immediately.”

Amen, how many more of our dollars will be siphoned off to prop up Mulcahy III’s failing sports “empire” (in his mind, at least; we’d probably call it a landfill and be done with it). Mulcahy III has always lost money, always will, and we the hard-working citizenry of New Jersey are always left to pick up the pieces. Is that fair?

Some of those pieces will be from cost overruns incurred in the Rutgers Stadium construction mania. In the Star Ledger, Margolin and Sherman report that a frenzy of last-minute overtime will add at least $300,000 to the construction tab — which is tantamount to yet another thumb twisted into the public eye because Mulcahy III and Slick McCormick have yet to figure out exactly where they are getting the $100+ million needed to build out even a diminished, flaccid stadium expansion.

Alas, we cannot expect much enthusiasm for honest inquiry into wasteful spending on Rutgers athletics over on the Senate side because Three Ring Codey — aka Garbage with Legs — presides over that aptly named chamber. Codey of course cares only about acquiring a fourth ring to squeeze onto his fat little fingers and if cost overruns there are, really, who cares? For Three Ring, this will always be the Soprano State.

Rutgers, incidentally, has drawn a line in the stadium sand: “Phase 1 will be ready for the Sept. 1 season opener versus Fresno State,” Miranda said, according to the Ledger’s reporting. If that turns out untrue, even supporters of the Mulcahy III reign (would we call them jockstraps? wannabe jockstraps?) need admit that this administration is characterized by Nixonian level lying. To our ears, Mulcahy III approaches every public utterance as an exercise in what his scattered gray matter views as “creative” talking. I.e., lie, lie, lie until they go away.

Meantime, New Jersey’s debt last year — despite Seatbelt Corzine‘s oft repeated promise to get government spending under control — crept up another $2 billion, lifting the total owed to $36.5 billion, per this Star Ledger piece. With citizens screaming for tax relief and a gubernatorial election on the ballot next year, where do you think Rutgers’ funding is headed? Indeed, expect more cuts — more gutting of the academic side as Rutgers continues its plummet into becoming the Louisville of the North.

Heard among the whispers: people who claim to have gotten an early look at the upcoming US NEWS & WORLD REPORT rankings say that Rutgers has tumbled five more spots, from #59 to #64. The miasma of mediocrity thickens as the limbo rock echoes between Slick McCormick’s ears: how low can we go?

Current Rutgers students: do you really think you are getting value for your tuition dollars? Hah! The joke, alas, is on you. Hah, hah!

Blowing the Whistle on Rutgers

August 20, 2008

The Star Ledger’s Margolin and Sherman stab another knife into Rutgers’ leadership with this expose, Rutgers’ fiscal practices were critiqued in internal audit.

They write: “Months before revelations of hidden deals and no-bid contracts sparked two investigations, Rutgers University auditors were warning that no one was watching the money flooding into the school’s athletic department.

A confidential internal audit issued nearly six months ago criticized the department’s fiscal controls — including hundreds of thousands of dollars in off-the-books spending that never appeared in the Rutgers budget.”

Even internal auditors apparently could smell the stench of Schianogate — the profligate spending, the lack of transparency, the secret stashes of cash, the utter indifference to public opinion. But their report was ignored.

Margolin and Sherman go on: Auditors found the athletic department subsidized the travel costs of boosters and other VIPs who accompanied the Scarlet Knights on charter flights to post-season bowl games the past three years, at a time when the university was hiking tuition and cutting academic budgets. It also discovered that the department understated its expenses for those games in reports to the administration and concluded the athletic department lacked the ability to collect and reliably report critical financial information “to the president, CFO, the board and the public.”

So, Mulcahy III lied about the expenses he incurred (how many times have we said that before?) and now we learn that at the very time students are getting socked with ever higher tuition and fees for a diminishing education, Mulcahy III did not hesitate in showering his “VIPs” (Three Ring Codey, is that you?) with freebies, perks and more.

Read the full expose here.

The AP, meantime, has piled on, with its story, Report: Auditors warned of Rutgers Athletics Troubles. The AP lead is this: “Rutgers University auditors warned of financial troubles at the school’s athletics department, months before revelations of possible mismanagement sparked two investigations, according to a published report.”

Literally dozens of newspapers across the country now have run with this story, bringing more shame, more disgrace to Rutgers, despite Slick McCormick’s continued chant that football will bring good things to the university.

How much more shame does Mulcahy III have to dump on Rutgers before he is terminated? Ditto for Slick McCormick.

The stench of Schianogate is turning a colonial university into a garbage heap of jockstraps.

“Codey’s an idiot,” et. al.

August 19, 2008

“Codey’s an idiot, and you can print that,” said Zoffinger. That’s the best line in this write-up about Zofflinger, by Mulcahy III publicist (oops, apparently he claims to be a journalist) Rick Malwitz. Certainly, we think Three Ring Codey is a flaming idiot as well as a poster boy for the Trenton culture of thuggery and theft that has transformed the Garden State into one big patronage pit. Codey is garbage with legs and, yes, Mr. Zofflinger, an idiot in the bargain.

Meantime, the GOP in Piscataway is pointing blaming fingers at the town’s Democratic mayor, claiming that passes he got that allowed entry into the Presidential box at Rutgers football games constitute a kind of payola. Our take on this: get real. We cannot imagine there exists a soul that desires to sup with Slick McCormick. The mayor may be bent, but his Presidential passes are no evidence of anything other than a willingness to waste autumn Saturdays with dreary company.

And then there is Fran Wood’s piece from 8-17, “Rutgers Shows Disrespect for the Public” (not online). Amen. Wood laments: “a lack of transparency has permeated the stadium project and the football
program in general.”

Wood adds: “In a recent oped in this paper, Rutgers athletic director Robert Mulcahy insisted stadium expansion is going just as planned. Others say that it is running behind, that they are rethinking future phases, and that a projected $30 million in public donations seems a pipe dream. Could it be that some of the prime movers still think we taxpayers can’t handle the truth?”

Indeed, because Mulcahy III also claims a chimerical $5 million profit earned by football in 2007 which is an outright lie. Let us see an audited p & l statement for Rutgers football. One that takes into account such things as a use fee for the stadium, grounds maintenance, gameday security — charge them all appropriately to football and what happens to the “profit?” Losses are the norm in Division I football and claiming Rutgers is in the black presupposes a very stupid audience (and, yes, we know the boosters have jumped on this and run it up their wobbly flag pole…but didn’t we say something about stupid?).

And there are closing thoughts from onetime Rutgers administrator Norman McNatt. Here is his letter to the New York Times:

To the Editor:

As a Rutgers alumnus and former administrator, I found your editorial both sad and enraging.

You correctly identify a failure of leadership at Rutgers and the shared responsibility of the State Legislature. But the failure reaches further than the president’s office, and the Legislature’s complicity has been compounded by its long-term neglect of the academic needs of Rutgers.

Two Rutgers presidents have essentially abdicated direction of athletics to athletics boosters on the boards of trustees and governors and to an athletic director obsessed by a chimera. Four of the nine members of the new athletics review committee set up by the university’s president, Richard L. McCormick, are current or former members of the Rutgers governing boards. The committee’s findings are all too predictable.

Rutgers, once a proud private university, was co-opted by the State of New Jersey in 1956 to become the state university. But the once-substantial public support promised for Rutgers has steadily fallen.

Big-time athletics, touted to offset financing cuts, has cost Rutgers its academic stature. Twenty years ago, six graduate programs were ranked in the top 10 nationally. Today, only one is in that distinguished company.

Norman McNatt
Princeton Junction, N.J.

“Misplaced spending priorities”

August 9, 2008

Now the Philly Inky has joined the pile of newspapers recently editorializing against Slick McCormick, Mulcahy III, Greedy Greg Schiano, et. al. Rutgers, states the Inky, has “misplaced spending priorities.”

Says the Inky: “Rutgers University President Richard L. McCormick gets high marks for returning a $100,000 bonus to help students pay their growing tuition.

The goodwill gesture may be lost on financially strapped students facing an 8.5 percent tuition hike at one of the most expensive public universities in the country.”

The Inky also points out:

* “Rutgers’ finances also have come under intense scrutiny after recent published reports detailing questionable deals designed to grow the football program.”

* “A plan to raise $30 million in private funds to help pay for the 14,000-seat stadium expansion has fallen way short. Now, the state comptroller plans to investigate the school’s spending practices.”

Meantime, over at the Star Ledger, Rutgers sports scribe Tom Luicci has the news that Rutgers has inked an expensive deal to play Kent State at home in 2012. Kent State demanded — and will get — a jaw-dropping $750,000 guaranteed payment to travel to Piscataway. Where will that money come from. Per Luicci: “the school expects to have some of the cost defrayed by the expanded capacity of Rutgers Stadium, which will be at 56,000 then.”

Excuse us, Luicci. We know you could not spell “verify” if spotted the consonants, but last we looked, Rutgers was very, very far short of the funding needed to proceed with the Phase 2 expansion which is where those seats get added. We know what Mulcahy III wants you to write but reporting, by definition, requires you to do a bit of verification. The $30 million private fundraising is a bust, as reported by your own newspaper. The construction estimates for the stadium have exploded well beyond the original $102 million. And now 10 newspapers have editorialized against RU, exactly none have come out in support of the school’s extravagant football fantasies. From our seats, we fully expect the BoG to announce within weeks that Phase 2 will be “delayed” — which is Raritan speak for terminated.

Mulcahy III’s spinmeisters must be singing that expansion tune exceptionally loudly. The Ohio press also is picking up on it. Reports “Rutgers will pay KSU $750,000 in 2012 to play a football game at its soon-to-be renovated stadium. That’s an unusually big payday to play at Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights apparently can afford to pay larger guarantees thanks to a $102-million renovation that will increase the capacity of their Piscataway, N.J., stadium from 41,500 to 56,000.” Talk about flimflam accounting. Mulcahy III apparently is “balancing” his budget with seats that have not been built and which are unlikely to be built. Just amazing, but would you expect otherwise from a lifelong Trenton hack? This is a state that is strangling in its own debt and Mulcahy III is a poster child for why we are in the sorry fiscal shape we are.

“Football Fantasy at Rutgers”

August 8, 2008

The New York Times has joined the posse of newspapers editorializing about misdirection at Rutgers and the first sentence sets up what follows: “Ever since Rutgers, New Jersey’s largest state university, began its campaign several years ago to become a big-time football power, bad things have happened.”

Ouch, Old Queens, ouch!

And it gets worse: “This single-minded, ask-no-questions push for football stardom has now reached a crisis.”

The Times also says of university president Slick McCormick that he “has long been a shameless cheerleader for the high-stakes football program.”

The Times continues: “In a logical world, Rutgers officials would swallow their egos and admit that their football fantasy was ill conceived, especially in view of New Jersey’s huge debt. They would scale down the stadium project, especially since the university couldn’t even fill the existing stadium when the team had losing seasons.”

Just what will happen in this illogical world of ours? The Times doesn’t know, and neither do we. But we know what should happen. Rutgers needs to pull out of bigtime football, athletic director Mulcahy III should be fired for jocksniffing to a criminal extent, Slick McCormick should be fired for abandonment of his position, and the rest of Rutgers needs to return to being a university.

What part of: there is no meaningful support for the reckless Phase 2 stadium expansion, which is prohibitively costly and wanted by so few, is hard to understand?

What part of: despite pouring millions into the Raritan in a puerile pursuit of bigtime football, the Rutgers team still is mediocre on its better days, is hard to understand?

What part of: NJ doesn’t need a Louisville of the North, it needs a Berkeley of the east, is hard to understand?

The Times, for its part, points fingers of blame where they belong: at the jocksniffing Trenton hacks who refuse money for academics but open the state’s coffers for football. “Rutgers is a public university, and its spending should be monitored closely by state officials. But Gov. Jon Corzine and most of the state legislators are big Rutgers football fans, and that does not make for much of a check on spending.”

Meantime, the Bergen Record, in its Friday editorial, tears into Rutgers: “Fiscal responsibility is absent at Rutgers. And state officials refuse to rein in the excesses. While these same officials argue for reductions in benefits for state employees and a reduction in state spending, they allow Rutgers to spend and borrow millions of dollars for its football program.” Along the way, the Record calls the Nelligan-Mulcahy tie-up a conflict of interest (it is), it mocks McCormick’s returning his undeserved $100k bonus, and it expresses profound disgust at Greedy Greg Schiano’s inflated pay package. When the Record is done, it doesn’t leave much skin on the Rutgers leadership. “Where is Governor Corzine’s outrage? Why is he not demanding the resignations of the rubber-stamping members of Rutgers’ board of governors? Why is he not questioning McCormick’s leadership and priorities? Why isn’t the Legislature demanding a change of leadership at Rutgers?”

It is time to clean house at Trenton, booting out the hacks, the jocksniffers, the Neanderthals, from Seatbelt Corzine to Three Ring Codey.

As for the Rutgers community, our question has to be: how much more embarrassment need we endure? Schianogate has become a poster child for all that can afflict higher education when the powers that be (in our case: Slick, Mulcahy III, and the jocksniffing BoG) are so intoxicated by a Quixotic (read: stupid) pursuit of “bigtime” sports glories that they forget the foundational purpose of a university is education. When even the august NYTimes joins in mocking our university leadership, there can be no further disputing the fact that Rutgers needs new leadership.

We believe the count is now 0 newspapers editorializing for the Rutgers football hysteria, nine against. Even a booster should be able to understand a shutout score.

It’s Friday, have a listen to what we are listening to. Now, that is something we can get behind.