For all the talk of the rise of Rutgers football being a "Cinderella story," the course of the present season is making many boosters eat their words. The first two games were disasters, particularly the second against the University of North Carolina (the score was 44 to 12, ouch). As the team prepares to face off against Navy today (with John McCain watching, no less), many people are starting to wonder if the near-flawless 2006 season was more of a fluke than a "triumphant return."
The team's recent lackluster performances only serve to underscore the bloated football program here at Rutgers, as well as the continued lack of transparency about how money is handled within the university. Editorials have flooded the school newspaper and other outlets about this controversy, but it seems that those who are opposed to the stadium expansion can do little but repeat themselves. The Rutgers administration is doing their best to keep things quiet and make sure butts are in the seats for the rest of the season. (Indeed, some members of the university administration, like Board of Governors chair M.W. Howard, appear to be outright delusional.)
Even though everyone is going to feel the financial pinch, the argument from boosters is that since people want more seats, they should have them. (I can almost hear Richard Attenborough's voice saying "Spared no expense!") It doesn't matter that the state is in a financial crisis and tuition is skyrocketing. If Rutgers needs to take out a $100,000,000 line of credit, so be it. Nevermind that the expected $30,000,000 in donations never showed up; money can always be diverted from other teams for the good of football.
No good arguments for why the project should continue have been offered (i.e. just how much money the football team is expected to bring in, when the huge debt will be paid off, etc.). Instead, all we get are platitudes about how the team is the pride of the state and how things aren't at all as bad as we think they are. I honestly don't know how the administration thinks it is going to pay back the loans. Football teams usually use more money than they make, and the university has let in so many new students (which the administration basically views as walking wallets) that there is not enough space at the school to house them all. It does not take a genius to see that we're in a very precarious situation.
This whole affair reminds me of the poem "Casey at the Bat." True, it is about baseball rather than football, but is seems that the administration here at Rutgers (aka Mudville) are scrambling to rescue success from the jaws of defeat. In this case, our "Casey" is the university president Richard McCormick, who smiles and assures us all is well in spite of what the reality of the situation tells us. I don't believe him. I feel that I am watching McCormick swing and miss for the third time in slow motion. Indeed, it seems that the expansion is going to proceed and there is little that can be done about it;
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville-- mighty [McCormick] has struck out.
As a Rutgers science grad (MS '98), and a "local," I have to agree with you. (Too much hype + too fast + too little thought behind the expansion) - (anticipated donations) = financial disaster for RU. Granted, I am a pretty big sports fan, but those sports include more than football. Although I must say, as I drive home from work during football season, I do chuckle every time I see the traffic signs lit up over Route 1, proclaiming that we must "plan an alternate route" due to an upcoming football game. Perhaps McCormick should heed those very words as he contemplates the school budget...
Maybe they'll be able to use the new stadium to provide more space for those crowded introductory biology classes?
The fundamentals of the Rutgers football team are strong!
If you think Football is bad, just wait until Basketball season starts. Even the vaunted Women's team is due for a "readjustment."
As for cash cow students - Ask Dr. Free-Ride how much a transit pass costs the Faculty or Staff. Then triple that cost and that's what they charge students. Ayup, they pay the faculty and staff and give them discounted transit passes, but students whose tuition has increased by 400% (yes indeed - 400%) since 2000 get the same product at 3 times the price faculty and staff pay.
But our Football team is 2-2... oh boy exciting...