Talk about a complete 180. A few weeks ago, I sat down to write about the greatest week of Rutgers football recruiting ever with only positive news surrounding the Scarlet Knights program at the end of June.
I spoke of four-star recruits flocking to the RU program, kids committing the day after their visit to Piscataway and phase one of a much-anticipated stadium expansion being completed by Sept. 1.
I mentioned all of the great press and various accolades that athletic director Bob Mulcahy and head coach Greg Schiano have brought to Rutgers during the abrupt resurgence of the program.
I reveled in the fact that the state of New Jersey was embracing a college football power for the first time in recent memory and implored Rutgers fans to bask in the glory of this proclaimed “golden age of Scarlet Knights athletics.”
So many good things can be said about the state of Rutgers sports right now, but while this remains 100 percent true, the news surrounding the school in the last week has been a demoralizing public relations hit and a blow to the excitement of many RU fans as the 139th season in school history approaches.
The whirlwind started on Monday July 21, when investigative reporters from The Star-Ledger (Newark, N.J.) unveiled the news that they had used an Open Public Records Act request to discover parts of Schiano’s contract that had not been released to the public. They showed that he was being paid $250,000 more than originally outlined based on a side agreement entered into five months after his original signing.
To compound the issue, the funds were being siphoned from the exclusive marketing agent of Rutgers football—Nelligan Sports Marketing. The amount was guaranteed by Rutgers through a LLC (limited liability corporation) established by Schiano, according to the Star-Ledger.
Additionally, the next day it was revealed that Schiano had an escape clause in his contract that would allow him to leave Rutgers after 2009 without paying a $500,000 buyout if the expansion of Rutgers Stadium (as agreed upon) was not completed.
This morning, The Star-Ledger continued their series on the issue by explaining that only $2 million of the $30 million pledged by New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine toward the renovations had been raised.
Many people have emphasized that with a big-time athletics program comes scandals, accusations, big contracts and extravagant goings-on. I disagree with this assessment. You must remember where you came from, even in a time of great prosperity.
Mind you, I am 100 percent in favor of the Rutgers Stadium expansion and even feverishly debated the Rutgers1000 on the topic on WRSU. However, I am upset that the conditions of this contract and the fundraising details were not public knowledge right off the bat.
Rutgers can still rectify this situation. Take on a stance of full disclosure, keep the season ticket holders happy and things will be fine once the expansion is complete.
Greg Schiano runs a clean program—the nation knows that. Now, the important part is to restore the integrity and perception of the University so that it matches the values of the football program at RU.
As the alma mater says, “my father sent me to ol’ Rutgers… and resolved that I should be a man.” Moving on in the song, “For with her motto high, Rutgers name shall never die, on the banks of the ol’ Raritan.”
Stay true to these concepts, make the Scarlet Knights community proud to be associated with the institution and don’t let secret agreements drive the Rutgers motto into the ground.
On the banks of the ol’ Raritan, there shall always be a University of great integrity, academics and athletics. Let’s keep it that way, Rutgers.