In today's Sunday Star-Ledger, the newspaper every NJ resident considers the state newspaper, dedicates their front page to an article by Jarrett Renshaw, entitled "Eight Wins, A Bowl Bid, and Millions in Losses". It chronicles how and why Rutgers is a real tale of foolhardiness bordering on malfeasance.
In September, I brought you an expose report by Bloomberg in my article entitled "The Irresponsible Squandering of $$$ on Athletics". I was roundly criticized for daring to reveal the truth about the State University of New Jersey.
In November, Keith Sargeant of the Home News Tribune, the newspaper serving the local Rutgers community in Central NJ, reported in his "Scarlett Scuttlebutt" that Rutgers had made their football coach the highest paid coach in the Big East Conference and the 20th highest paid coach in the nation.
Today's Star-Ledger article reveals that they reviewed NCAA reports, university records, annual financial reports and other documents as they are allowed by the Open Public Records Act.
Essentially, the most distressing discovery was the same as the Bloomberg report foretold. Rutgers has re-directed $26.84 million to athletics. $8.44 million is from student fees and 18.4 million is from their general fund.
This was all while overall state funding to the state university has fallen $29 million over the past three years, forcing faculty cuts and pay freezes. There was even a resolution by the Arts & Sciences Faculty calling for increased scrutiny on the athletics department because of its irresponsible spending.
It must be pointed out that the vast majority of funding for the Athletics Department is discretionary.
One of the most distressing aspects of this report is the 70 percent increase in spending Rutgers has squandered (my word, not theirs) on athletics. I say squandered because, since his hiring eleven years ago, Greg Schiano now sits with a .500 record while he enjoys being the highest-paid public employee in the state.
I have long accused Rutgers of trying to be something they are not; this article demonstrates my point by quoting Rutgers Athletic Director, Tom Pernetti, when he noted "We are not Norman, Oklahoma."
Indeed, the only thing Oklahoma University and Rutgers have in common is that they are state universities.
Rutgers, under their soon-to-step-down President Richard McCormick, have long thought they ought to become something they were not. To their credit, they are a wonderful academic institution and have even been lauded for getting the job done in educating their athletes.
The problem is that, as has again been conclusively proven, they spend inordinately in a futile effort to be something they are not.
Rutgers needs a reality check. Before they play in yet another gratuitous bowl game, they ought to get their priorities straight. They encapsulate their mission statement as "Teaching, Research, Community Engagement". The implication is one of balance and says nothing about being a developmental league for the professional ranks.
Kids who go there to receive an education ought not to be paying for the foibles of the Athletics Department and neither ought the taxpayers of NJ.