It's Pernitious!

Along with RU boosters everywhere, RU1000 wants to welcome aboard the Board of Governors' inspired choice for a new Athletic Director.

We expect the choice will be especially popular among fans old enough to remember Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, peace be with them.



The AD Arrives

An interview with Tim Pernitious


ARR Weekly: Tim Pernitious, you've recently become Athletic Director at Rutgers University. Before that, if we're not mistaken, you were a color commentator on the Rutgers football radio network. Is that correct?

TP: That's correct.

ARR: Tim, a number of our readers have asked how, exactly, that prepares a person for an administrative appointment at an institution of higher learning. For instance, Mark M. of Edison, NJ, reports that whenever the Rutgers football team gained ground in a game, you would invariably say things like "THAT'S WHAT YOU'VE GOT TO DO IF YOU WANT TO WIN THE GAME! Nivens goes out on the cross check, and Simpson runs the slant, and you get the block and you pick up seven. That's the kind of thing you've got to do." Did you actually say stuff like that?

TP: I did.

ARR: Why?

TP: It's what you say.

ARR: We see. Well, take an opposite case. Harold A. of Bethesda, MD, Rutgers class of '57, claims that whenever the Rutgers football team failed to gain ground you could be counted on to say things like "THAT'S WHAT YOU CAN'T DO IF YOU WANT TO WIN THE GAME! Bliven goes out on the counter inside pattern and runs the flyboot route, but Dickleston forgets to look away the pass defense and Kontowski comes across and nearly gets the interception. You can't do that if you're want to win the game." Did you say that as well?

TP: Yes.

ARR: Why?

TP: It's the job. You say what happened. Then you point out that you can or can't do that thing if you want to win the game.

ARR: But it seems so banal. Mindless blather, if you'll pardon the expression.

TP: It's what people tune in for.

ARR: All right. Let's turn to a major issue. Ever since you were appointed athletic director, we've had a flood of letters claiming that you were totally unqualified for an administrative appointment at Rutgers. We'd like to ask you a few questions about that.

TP: Okay.

ARR: A preliminary question. Rutgers is currently spending $55 million a year on what many regard as lower-level professional athletics. The bulk of that goes to football and basketball. Can you explain why you think an institution of higher learning should be sponsoring semi-pro franchises?

TP: Hey, you've got to have a football franchise. Look at South Florida. Look at Cincinnati. Look at Boise State. Same with basketball. Look at Louisville. Look at Tennessee. You don't want Rutgers to be as good as South Florida and Louisville?

ARR: Actually, we want Rutgers to be a great deal better than places like South Florida and Louisville. But as an institution of higher learning, not as a sports factory.

TP: Hey, if you didn't have a franchise, who'd provide weekend entertainment for the legislators and the boosters?

ARR: So you think the purpose of Rutgers University should be to provide weekend entertainment for state legislators and sports boosters?

TP: (perplexed) What else could it be?

ARR: Let's try another tack. At some schools -- Div III schools, and non-athletic-scholarship schools like the Ivies and Colgate and Lafayette and other Patriot League members -- regular undergraduates go out for the football team or the basketball team or the crew in just the same way as their classmates go out for the student newspaper or the orchestra or a production of Waiting for Godot. It's called the participatory model of college athletics. Is there anything wrong with that?

TP: Everything is wrong. For one thing, that so called "participatory" model would destroy our athletics department. You pointed out yourself that we're spending $55 million a year on athletics. Do you have any idea of what would happen if we abolished athletic scholarships, paid coaches the kind of money they get at places like Colgate and Harvard, and just had students going out for the team? Our athletics budget would shrink to maybe $8-9 million a year. Do the math. That's a drop of over $45 million a year right there.

ARR: Many people think that the money would be far better spent on seminar rooms, lecture halls, student theater facilities, solidly-built dormitories, library acquisitions, and such. They point out that Rutgers has what is widely known as a "slum campus." The money could be used for renovation. Do you see any logic there?

TP: No. You do that for two or three years and Rutgers is going to sink right down to the level of places like Columbia or Princeton. The boosters wouldn't stand for it.

ARR: We see. Well, moving right along, Tim Pernitious, in a recent newspaper story you talk about your marketing skills. You must be aware that many thoughtful people object to the the way commercialized Div IA sports is turning universities into marketing vehicles for corporate brands. Does that upset you at all?

TP: (scratching his head) Errr . . . You mean there's people who don't think you should run Rutgers as a marketing operation? But it is a marketing operation. Look, you've got the TV contracts, and the radio contract, and marketing slogans like "Global Roots, New Jersey Reach," and the tie-in with Nelligan Sports, and ads on NJ Transit, and commercial sponsors, and promotions like the Hello, Scarlet Knights books, and Greg's teams always going off to like the Pizza Bowl and the Weedwacker Bowl and all. . . . What do they think all that's about?

ARR: We hate to tell you, but many of our alumni consider all that to be obscene -- the equivalent of turning Rutgers into a JIffy Lube franchise. They think that anyone who goes around talking about a "Rutgers brand" ought to be held up to public disgrace.

TP: Do they know about the cross-check pattern and the inside flyboot and "Go Rutgers!" and all that?

ARR: They do, Tim Pernitious, they do.

TP: My goodness.

ARR: There's one more thing. Many people have observed that trying to turn Rutgers into a sports factory is driving away top NJ students and drawing thousands of lowlifes who "hate school" and live only to get drunk and drag Rutgers through the dirt by their behavior at football and basketball games. Do you have anything to say about that?

TP: (stoutly) "Drag Rutgers through the dirt?" That's pretty strong.

ARR: Why, Tim Pernitious, you're the new athletic director. Do you really not know that thousands of lowlife "students" attracted by big time sports are dragging Rutgers' reputation through the dirt?

TP: Nobody's told me anything.

ARR: Well, we do happen to be in the age of the internet. Why don't we just pause for a moment and let you see what we're talking about. Maybe our readers would like to look as well:

 Dragging Rutgers through the dirt: "Big East" athletics at an old eastern university

TP: (crestfallen) Okay. Well. Jeez. I see. Hey, I've got an idea. Why don't we talk about my initiative to make the Rutgers football franchise popular with guys in sports bars.

ARR: What initiative?

TP: (proudly) my Twitter initiative.

ARR: And what, exactly, might that be?

TP: (genuinely astonished) You don't know TWITTER?

ARR: No. Sorry.

TP: It's a technology, you send out text bytes and there's a list of contacts and everybody knows who's taking to everybody else and it's really exciting, you can look at it five hundred times a day and not get bored. Twitter. You don't know Twitter?

ARR: And what, exactly, does this have to do with your football franchise?

TP: (proudly) I've set up a Twitter account for the Rutgers athletics department. I call it the Twitter Initiative.

ARR: So people can send you messages?

TP: And we can send THEM messages. All the time. Short messages, so you don't have to use big words or anything. It's really exciting! Greg and I send each other tweets about every five minutes.

ARR: Tweets?

TP: (animatedly) Tweets are these little bytes that you send and other people can see what you're sending and you can see who they are and it's really neat, like being popular in 4th grade.

AAR: And, so far, that's your only accomplishment?

TP: (proudly) Only? I call it a breakthrough. You don't see Louisville getting their brand around with tweets. You don't see South Florida doing it.

ARR: We see. Tim Pernitious, we thank you for your time. We'd like to end with one last question. A reader asks -- this just came in -- if you're the sort of person who wears sun glasses perched up on his hair?

TP: (shyly) Oh, you noticed. It's my new look. I started doing it when I held a pep meeting for athletics department staff. To tell them about the Twitter initiative. They ate it up.

ARR: Tim Pernitious, thanks once again. We understand your point of view a great deal better now.