Rutgers University’s football team boasts a sparkling 8-0 record and rankings in the top 15 of the national polls, but this sudden rise to prominence, for the first time in nearly 30 years, has come at a price, according to a long article in Sunday’s Record, a newspaper in northern New Jersey. And the price seems largely to be paid by other parts of Rutgers that are seen as less central to the university’s overall success. Or, as Richard L. McCormick, its president, puts it, “the extreme visibility of the football program” is central in “importance to the image and reputation of the university.”
That explains why the football team’s budget is $13-million a year, yet is still in the red, and why Rutgers’s answer to an $80-million cut in state support was to eliminate six other sports, some 600 non-football jobs, and about 800 course sections, and to raise tuition so that it’s among the highest of any public university.
Meanwhile, the football coach is the top-paid public employee in New Jersey, and the university helped him further by swinging a sweet deal for his new home. The football players get to stay at a posh hotel for home games. And Rutgers blew its entire payout from its appearance in a bowl game last year — and then spent some more — to fly a huge entourage to the game, to award bonuses, and to hand out bowl-related rings to state lawmakers and other key supporters, The Record said.
The Rutgers athletics director, Robert E. Mulcahy III, says catching up to the competition isn’t cheap, and you won’t recruit top players without gold-plated amenities. He told The Record that the team would be making money in five years.