McCormick’s Learning Curve

May 22, 2008

It seems plain: Dick McCormick is a slow learner. Just as Rutgers now is mired in contretemps over the wanton waste of taxpayer dollars to fund lavish follies at bowl games — so exactly the same scenario played out at the University of Washington when McCormick was president. That triggered a state ethics investigation that prodded the university to spell out, in detail, who could swill from this particular pork barrel. Read the details in this Seattle Times story.

In that sorry case, the university even was forced to reimburse the state’s ethics board for the costs of the investigation.

Curiously enough, just as Rutgers has lost money on its bowl appearances, Washington managed to lose money on its 2000 Rose Bowl appearance: “The UW spent $1.45 million on the Rose Bowl trip, about $1.3 million of which was paid for by the Pacific-10 Conference, which invited the Huskies to the game,” according to the Seattle Times. Fancy that: money gets lost even on the biggest bowl appearances!

Those losses came because McCormick apparently invited his in-laws, many spouses, random politicos — and even picked up the tab for Disneyland visits. Talk about pirates of Puget Sound!

What is stopping Trenton? We need a full-on investigation of Rutgers’ wasteful and thoughtless expenditures in connection with all three money-losing bowl appearances — and we need an apology to the university’s students who will see classes canceled in the fall, classes that could have been held if the money hadn’t been squandered on football and bread and circuses for hangers-on.

And we need an apology to the state’s tax-payers who, ultimately, are picking up the tab for Mulcahy’s Folly. It’s time to halt this expensive and mindless pursuit of big-time sports. There just is no more public money to pour down that particular sinkhole.


Wasteful, Wanton Football Expenses

May 16, 2008

State auditors are blowing foul whistles regarding Rutgers and money at the Texas Bowl.

The Bergen Record story is here.

The Gannett story is here.

Ledger reporting is here.

Call this a sad saga of waste. Auditors “found the university spent $11,000 on in-room movies, valet parking, room service, Internet connections and phone charges for spouses, guests and children of athletic staff during the Texas Bowl trip to Houston in December 2006,” per Gannett.

This is the very same university that keeps jacking up fees and tuition for students and that has a backlog of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of deferred maintenance.

According to the Bergen Record: “The school could not provide a figure for how much was spent at the bowl, which Rutgers won.

“The previous year, when it played in the Insight Bowl in Arizona, the athletic department spent all of its $1.25 million bowl payout and more, according to documents analyzed by The Record.

The school also paid the way for dozens of guests, spouses and children to attend that game.”

Chew on that: Rutgers has no idea what it spent, it admittedly lost money in the Insight Bowl appearance the prior year, and yet it paid for “dozens” of guests to go to Texas to watch a tertiary bowl game.

Is this a program you want to support with your dollars? A program that — apparently without shame — admits it does not have a clue how much it lost on the Texas Bowl.

Another Stadium Disaster

April 28, 2008

How troubled is Gilbane, the contractor hired by Rutgers to build the $100+ million stadium expansion? Bad enough that the New Jersey Schools Development Authority in February fired Gilbane from some 22 construction projects, according to reporting by the Targum. Targum adds that NJSDA is preparing to file suit against Gilbane.

Gilbane already has a history also of New Jersey projects plagued with cost overruns. The NJSDA complaints revolve around shoddy work.

Predictably — sadly — university president Dick McCormick is quoted by Targum saying: “We’re very satisfied with Gilbane.” Sigh. We suppose it’s too much to expect McCormick to tell the truth: the stadium expansion plan is moronic and we should shut it down tout suite.

Incidentally, this is not the only news about Gilbane. In Rhode Island legislators are saying the award of a contract at the University of Rhode Island is both riskier and more expensive than necessary. That story is here. In Falmouth, MA, a high school renovation apparently has been plagued by problems — read about it here.

The Star Ledger, meantime, weighs in with this report on Gilbane, headlined: Report: Rutgers Stadium Contract Had Been Fired From Public School Job.

The AP picks up this ball and runs with it, in a story that says the Schools Development Authority is suing Gilbane for $13 million.

McCormick-Mulcahy had better hope that state political powerbroker Joe Cryan — who already is irked by corruption and waste at Rutgers — does not decide to hold hearings into the football stadium expansion which, increasingly, resembles a stereotypical New Jersey boondoggle. As the Gannett chain reported: “It is the height of hypocrisy for colleges to cry poverty while state watchdogs are printing page after page of evidence of waste,” Cryan said in a statement issued Friday.