Saturday, December 20, 2008

Rutgers Football - Again in the News

Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin of the Star Ledger recently reported that a special university commission found that the athletic department at Rutgers University was allowed to operate without oversight by board of governors or the president of Rutgers.

You might remember that Rutgers recently eliminated 6 varsity sports (including sports which had yielded many an Olympian from Rutgers, including rowing) in its effort to create a football dynasty. The Star Ledger reports that the annual football program budget, which was $7.5 million in 2003, is now over $15 million and accounts for more than half of the total athletic department budget.

School officials, probably sheepishly, acknowledged that the football program (like 80% of all collegiate football programs according to the NCAA) still loses money. In addition - in an effort to keep coach Greg Schiano from leaving Rutgers, the University also rushed into constructing a $102 million dollar stadium, which is undergoing its own investigation by the comptroller for the State of New Jersey.

The Star Ledger outlines several expenses that the football team incurs, including the remarkable line item of having the football team sleep at a Hyatt Hotel before all home games. That's right, folks - home games.

Here is the irony. I remember being housed before the Olympic Games - in the Olympic Village in Barcelona. The Village had no air conditioning and was built over a highway. Swimmers (who had competed early) shouting at 2 in the morning.

No Hyatts for us.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mary,

I'm hoping that you aren't one of the people who believe the half truths and innuendo that Josh Margolin and ted Sherman wrote in their series of articles. Every one of the central points of their articles was debunked in writing by the Rutgers Adminsitration and the independent 35 page report.

The troubling thing is that Josh, ted and the Publisher all knew, after the first article (and maybe before) that what they were priting was blatantly misleading to the average reader in New Jersey. yet, they continued to reassert the same claims even after they had documented proof that the claims were not true.

It's becoming more clear very day that there were other motives and agendas at work here. The most likely that many subscribe to is that the Star Ledger needed the "big win" of a major expose to boost their sagging sbscription and try to justify their existence.

It's well known in industry circles that the Star Ledger will have staggering operating losses in 2008, maybe as high as $70 million. That's what the major union concessions by the Teamsters, Plant Closings and layoffs were all about. The most recent of these is repalcing seasoned reporters with $17 per hour summer interns.

It's not illogogical to think that the vast pressure put on management to turn this financial debacle around led to teh reporters and publisher ignoring their journalisitc roots and integrity and pritning known misleading information.

That, and their publisher's steadfast unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions is why their is a major boycott of the newspaper and its major advertisers by Rutgers Supporters.

Mary, if you can overlook the shoody reporting by the Star ledger, their pbvious attempts to mislead the New Jersey public and their desperate attempts to build a dtory and keep it alive regardless of the cost, so be it.

The real story here isn't staying at a Hyatt or some other expenses. Every major D1 foorball team does the same. The major story is the Star Ledger costing a well respected and honest man)Bob Mulcahy) his job by printing a patently misleading story and refusing to allow that man to defend himself.

That is the power of the press run amuck and you are only adding to it with you feeble attempst to feed around the edges.

Ralsph Sunderstorm
East Brunswick, NJ

Anonymous said...

Before you put yourself out there next time, I would suggest you do a little homework. If you did, you would find that all major college football teams stay at local hotels the night beofre home games, including the cadets at West Point

Anonymous said...

Every major football team stays at a hotel before home games.

Anonymous said...

She did the same kind of homework as Josh and Ted...must be a SU grad.

I repeat what some other poster said...EVERY NCAA football team has a hotel room at home games...you may think that is is unfair...but I don't see any swim meet packing fans in a stadium at $20-40 a fan....you do as much investigative reporting as the Star Leger...Bravo, you must be a journalism major...You probably couldn'y make it as a photo journalist as well..you won't be able take any photos without cutting off the majority of what you are trying to take a picture of?

Anonymous said...

awww...you poor little dingbat. Sorry someone woke you up during the Olympics... get over it.

Jason said...

Mary,

I ask you not to fall into the trap of taking what the Star Ledger says as gospel. The 2 reporters (Ted Sherman/Josh Margolin) of this story have been on some agenda to tarnish Rutgers with sensationalist and scandalous headlines that have no basis in fact. Whether it’s to increase readership which has been sagging or gain notoriety who knows. Repeatedly there were attempts by the university and its supporters to respond to their allegations yet they refuse to acknowledge the responses and continued to print the same innuendo. In New Jersey there’s a ton of corruption so any allegation is just assumed to be true. I’m sick of the rampant corruption in the state but these 2 tried to manufacture it when it wasn’t there and it was disproved time and again. I don’t know what happened to journalistic integrity these days. These repeated allegations without any attempt to hear the real facts motivated many supporters of Rutgers to take action. Numerous small donations amounting to 9000 dollars was raised to place in ad in the Star Ledger to refute their claims. The ad ran in the 12/17/08 edition of the Ledger. The group had paid for and had been told that the ad would be placed in the front section instead the Ledger buried it back in the County section amongst many other ads where it would be difficult to find even for those seeking it. Does this sound like a free and fair press really looking for the truth or one using underhanded tactics. Here’s a link to the ad that was placed.


http://www.synensys.com/slad1217.htm

Now on to a few of your claims. Yes I agree there was a lack of oversight found by the independent report and the blame was placed on the President and the Board of Governors, not the athletic director. NO wrongdoing was found. With the lack of oversight there was an opportunity for wrongdoing but nothing happened. You talk about the football budget going from 7 to 15 million. Yes it has but that’s because the football revenue has increased tremendously in that time from donations and ticket sales as well. You’re a CEO of a company when you’re a startup you have small budget you suddenly grow and guess what your budget most likely will grow too. This is what I mean when I say the Ledger tries to distort things and an average reader will not see the real truth.

You mention the 6 sports that were cut. Did you know that before that, Rutgers had 30 sports one of the highest in the country but their budget for the athletic department wasn’t nearly as high as the others athletic departments. Even with the reduction of the 6 sports, Rutgers has 24, still the most in the Big East conference in which it resides. But now the budget can be used to make sure those 24 have the resources to compete at the highest level. Again as a CEO you must know tough choices have to be made sometimes and that you can’t please everyone all the time.

You talk about the 102 million stadium expansion. It’s not coming from tax dollars, it’s not coming from academic spending it’s going to be self funded from ticket sales, concessions, increased donations etc.. That’s the reason it got approved because it can be self funded. Again as a CEO you should know that money goes to what can be and are the revenue generators. The major sports programs (football, mens/womens basketball) are the ones that can generate revenue, increase donations, increase applications, and raise the awareness of a university. Whether you like it or not, is another thing but it’s just a fact. I see you went to Georgetown Law so you should know that academics and athletics can make for a wonderful partnership. Georgetown is a fine school with a fine mens basketball team and a big reason it’s widely known similar to Duke. Both are good schools obviously but having those teams really helps. Academics and athletics aren’t mutually exclusive and can go hand in hand.

You also talk about staying at a hotel for home games. Yes it does seem a little strange for the lay person but it’s something teams do to get the team together rather than have them separate in their own homes and get them focused for the game at hand. It’s standard practices for pretty much any teams I can think. You may not like that practice it’s what’s done across the country.

I hope you can keep an open mind to some of the things I’ve laid out. The Ledger has tried to tarnish our university and that’s what gotten the ire of many of us. We’re trying to get the real facts out. Thanks.

DJ Spanky said...

Mary, Mary, Mary. You're worse than those hacks at the SL, because they at least had an agenda, while you appear to just be a parrot.

Let's deal with your points one-by-one:

1. Rutgers eliminated 6 Olympic sports because the state of NJ eliminated $66 million from Rutgers budget, not because Rutgers was focusing more money on football. EVERY department had to make cuts. Furthermore, the elimination of sports had been recommended by an independent report commissioned under the last Rutgers Atheletic Director and President, which concluded that Rutgers supported too many NCAA level teams. Perhaps you would have read that if you had done one iota of research. Lastly, those sports weren't eliminated, simply demoted to "club" status.

2. Yes, the football budget has gone up, but so has the football revenues. The latter has gone way up, leading to point 3 below. And football currently takes up the same percentage of the overall Athletic Department budget as it has over the last decade - once again, a complete failure on your part to do any research.

3. The football program no longer loses money. Completely missed that one, huh? For the latest year on record, the football program cost around $15 million while bringing in, are you ready for this, around $20 million. Oops, big, big hole in your little tirade, huh?

4. Rutgers did not rush into the expansion of the stadium - it had been planned for several years, and was voted and approved by the Board of Governors. With a waiting list of over twelve thousand people for season tickets, the stadium expansion was necessary. Also, Rutgers plays in the smallest stadium in the Big East, and one of the smallest in BCS Football.

5. The investigation by the NJ comptroller is simply following the same path as the other two independent audits, of which you reported the results yourself. And it has NOTHING to do with the stadium expansion, as you insinuate. Given the huge level of corruption in NJ politics, one rather has to question why the focus is on Rutgers rather than huge multi-billion dollar projects like Xanadu, the new aquarium, the new Meadowlands stadium, etc.

6. Others above explained and refuted your little rant about the accomdations for the football team before home games, again highlighting your complete lack of knowledge and research into the topic. However, I'd just like to know what your experiences in Barcelona have to do with this topic? And what swimmers shouting at 2 in the morning in a foreign country have to do with Rutgers football? I wouldn't call that irony: I'd call it going off on a self-referencing, ego-massaging tangent.

Anonymous said...

Mary,

You've covered Title IX issues, even made some nice documentaries on its effect on college sports. Considering Men's Crew is a 60 member sport that isn't even recognized by the NCAA, don't you think there is more to the story than what Josh Margolin & Ted Sherman are trying to make you believe?

RU Crew has not been eliminated. It is now a Club sport, competing in the same meets, and participating in the EARCs & IRAs. Take it from a crew alum who is STILL getting called for donations, nothing has changed, except for the fact that the school is now in compliance with Title IX.

Anonymous said...

Mary,

Couldn't help but notice that not one poster has yet to support your position. Sorry but this one won't be the first one either. Did you do any research at all before you began typing away because this is by far the worst blog/story I've read on the situation concerning Mutt and Jeff at the Ledger. I am glad you didn't name the school you attended because you've certainly not represented it very well at all.

Anonymous said...

As others have mentioned there's nothing "incredible" about football teams staying in hotels the night before home games. Every school does this including smaller schools in leagues like the Patriot and Ivy. Whatever the specific reasoning for this is it is clearly universally embraced.

And as far as what the school spends doubling since 2003, do ya suppose that attendance doubling, national television exposure quadrupling, sales of Rutgers merchandise skyrocketing, sponsorship revenue exploding and donations increasing have any place in your list of facts?

Anonymous said...

Everybody: Please calm down. If you disagree, why not write without trying to belittle and demean the person with whom you disagree? Or, as Rodney King said, "Can't we all just get along?"

Here's what I have learned from these comments: Football is sacrosanct to some people; there is no point in any discussion about its status or funding. In addition, while I don't have the time to spend on researching Rutger's budget, as many have urged Mary to do, even if I did, I doubt it's possible for those outside any university administration to really know what's going on in their budget. But, rather than talking about Rutgers athletics, or Rutgers in relation to other NCAA schools, I'll just say, more broadly, it's really tiresome that sports fans fight so much with each other over which sport should have more support. I would rather take a step back. Speaking directly, I don't care about the NCAA or any other athletic "conference". I never have believed that colleges and universities should be the farm teams for the pros. Let all pro teams sponsor their own farm teams, as baseball does.

Universities are non-profit academic institutions, they should not, or be assumed to, imitate businesses by trying to justify spending on "profit centers". Budgets and spending should reflect the academic priorities of the university. Further, I wish all schools would base financial aid on need only, rather than athletic prowess, or any other irrelevant attribute.

AR

Jason said...

That's a nice utopian world you live in AR but it's not reality. Contrary to what you think yes we love our sports but we also cherish and take pride in the academics of the university. That's one of the reasons we love the football programs with regards to academics the teams performance is up there with the Dukes, Navys, Stanfords and it's a tribute to them. Ask any Rutgers fan if they want to see the infrastructure and academic spending improve, you'll get a resounding yes. It should take priority over sports too most will agree. The monies being spent for sports wouldn't be diverted to academics it just wouldn't be spent at all. It's the easy assumption to make that academics and athletics are diverting money from each other but they don't.

We should be focusing on the corrupt Trenton pols and their pet projects like Xanadu at the Meadowlands and Abbott schools which do divert money from the university. Literally, hundreds of millions of dollars, this is what the focus should be on not trying to take easy, unfair and untrue potshots at the athletic teams. Whether you like it or not society loves athletics and does place some value on it. This is the world we live in and working in those parameters we can leverage those assets to bolster the academic side of the university. The football are basketball teams are couple of the few vehicles the university can use to bolster donations to the whole university, increase applications, and raise the awareness of the university.

The ire has been raised by Rutgers supporters and alumni because of the continuous unfair, untrue barrage of innuendos launched by the Star Ledger even when their claims were disproved. Mary or you or anyone else shouldn't be the target of this frustration and anger. You're just the everyday people who have no reason to not trust the slanted news they print. In my previous post and others I just want to lay the facts out in front of you so you see the real truth. Hopefully, you and others will have an open enough mind to see them. Honestly, until this incident I was similar to you and I've become disheartened that the media would be so agenda driven and sensationalist. It is what it is and we're trying to get the real truth out there to the everyday person.

Btw even after the Star Ledger tried to bury the first ad so it wouldn't be seen, pressure was put on them and it was put out in today's 12/21/08 page 20 Sunday Star Ledger so everyone can see.

ellen said...

Hey Mary,

The other posters are correct that most NCAA football teams do stay in hotels before home games, among other benefits that could be argued to be justified or outrageous depending on your view of how college athletics are run. While it is true that universities are non-profit, athletic departments are a business, big business, with the athlete as the product. And in that view, is a scholarship and a hotel room even enough compensation for the kind of mileage that the university gets out of them in four years? In many situations, no, but the point is, is athleteics as business the model we should perpetuate? Dr. Christine Grant was interviewd in a great article, calling for a complete overhaul about how we think about and do college athletics. She may be the lone voice in the wilderness, but she is certianly a breath of fresh air from all the vitriol that came crashing down on this thread. Enjoy the read, and keep up the good work. - http://www.csmonitor.com/2001/1130/p12s1-alsp.html "A voice in the wilderness for sports as education."

Anonymous said...

My (admittedly biased and emotive) response: I have to question people who are so quick to criticise you but who feel the need to do so completely anonymously (save for Raslph...). Regardless of the amount of research done (or not done) we are all entitled to our opinions. Props to you for stating your personal opinion in your personal blog. I will happily stand alone here and say that your take on the story is just one more reason why I respect you.
Because really, what is it teaching these kids if they are treated with kid gloves and sent to stay in nice hotels the night before games while some student tutor goes to class for them just so the athlete can focus well enough to play to a level sufficient to keep selling seats to games? These are college students, not professional athletes. And, regardless of the details of the facts, it sounds like it is safe to say that Rutgers (along with a ton of other Division One schools that are football-profit-driven) have lost their way and become convinced that these kids are actually their employees...here to help generate revenue rather than to learn. Long live Division III.

Z's mom in CA

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