"The very best":

a brief guide to McCormickspeak

 

1999

"To get the best, the very best, you have to pay in and play in the market. In Rick Neuheisel, we have the very best."

-- R.L. McCormick, then president of the University of Washington, defending payment of $1.2 million salary to football coach Rick Neuheisel (later fired amid reports of illegal recruiting, gambling on NCAA events, and related charges of sleazy Div IA behavior)

 

2009

"It's a matter of vision and strategy. The great majority of public research universities -- especially the very best -- have made decisions to invest in intercollegiate athletics, specifically at the Div I level."

--Richard L. McCormick, president of Rutgers University, defending $56 million annual spending on athletics, including $1 million-plus salaries for football coach Schiano and basketball coach Stringer, at a time when Rutgers was in a state of utter financial destitution

 

Scarlet R's Obedient Tool

The myth that football programs "generate money for academic purposes" has been exploded for so long that nobody in the debate about college sports any longer takes it seriously. Some 30 years ago, Murray Sperber wrote in College Sports, Inc that

If profit and loss is defined according to ordinary business practices, of the 802 members of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association . . . only 10 to 20 programs make a consistent albeit small profit, and in any given year another 20 to 30 programs break even or do better. The rest lose anywhere from a few dollars to millions annually.

--Sperber, "Myths and Facts," 2

More recently, sports economists like Andrew Zimbalist -- author of Unpaid Professionals (Princeton University Press) -- have shown that, even in the tiny number of programs that do make a profit, the money goes directly back into the program. Not a penny is spent for academic purposes.

None of this, however, stopped the current president of Rutgers from claiming that pouring $102 million down the sink of stadium expansion would someday bring in money for classrooms, solidly built dormitories, and other urgent academic needs. As one member of RU1000 said, "It's like the man is living on another planet." Here's the quote:

In a letter to the University community in early 2008, University President Richard L. McCormick said the project would not divert any funds away from academic programs, faculty and staff salaries or student services.


“Over time, in fact, additional revenue from the expanded stadium will allow us to reduce the current subsidy of athletics and invest more University funds in academics, student life and other priorities,” McCormick said in the letter. “Why aren’t we spending $102 million on fixing classrooms, restoring class sections and hiring faculty instead? The fact is that we don’t — and won’t — have this money unless we add the stadium seating to generate it.”

-- Daily Targum, 8 Sept 2009

An alumnus on the RU1000 alumni council suggested, however, a possible alternative: "How do you know that McCormick is talking about direct profits? Couldn't he be talking about making the legislature happy so that it will give more money for classrooms and similar purposes?"

To which our answer is twofold:

1) It's the job of a strong university president to educate the legislature about what an institution of higher learning is and should be, not to capitulate to retrograde demands that weaken it academically and drive top students and faculty away; and

2) The university has already spent an estimated $400 million dollars on its idiotic and useless sports buildup. Nobody, not even McCormick, can deny that if the same money had been used to give Rutgers a graceful and attractive campus and decent facilities for real students -- as opposed to hired semi-pro athletes -- we'd be closer to being a real university today.

The $400 million has been spent. So it must have been there to spend in the first place. The rest was a matter of choosing what sort of institution Rutgers was to be. How do you answer that, Mr. Lawren-- sorry, Mr. McCormick?