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Rutgers Athletics: Robbing Academics to Fund Big Sports

While management is celebrating our inclusion in the Big Ten, there are a few things we won’t be celebrating:

RUTGERS FUNDS ATHLETICS, NOT ACADEMICS.  In the 2012-13 year, spending on athletics skyrocketed by 25%, while funding for instruction rose only 5%.  In a year that has seen the SAS budget running at a deficit, continued cries of austerity from Old Queens, and no end to the hiring of part-time and contingent faculty in higher ed, Rutgers’ spending priorities leave the community wondering if we are a football team with a university on the side.


ATHLETICS WITHERS WITHOUT ACADEMICS. The most astonishing aspect of this spending is its source.  A now infamous USA Today report revealed that 44% of Rutgers’ athletics budget in 2012 was subsidized by the academic resources of the University.  Far from an anomaly, 44% is only an average subsidy for the 2008–12 budgets.



RUTGERS SUBSIDIZES SPORTS WHILE FREEZING SALARIES AND RAISING TUITION.  Priorities?  Management has been funneling outrageous subsidies into athletics, but imposed a freeze on the salaries of faculty and staff in 2010.  The freeze contributed to record revenues for Rutgers, to the tune of $200 million in 2011, and at the expense of campus employees and negotiated contracts.  Student fees — a mandatory part of tuition bills, which is exempt from state caps on tuition increases — accounted for a whopping 15% of the 2012 athletics budget.


UNLIKE RUTGERS, OTHER BIG TEN PROGRAMS ARE SELF-SUSTAINING.  The subsidies Rutgers has poured from academics into athletics are unheard of nation-wide, according to USA Today.  And, it can only get worse.  At the same time management promises to work toward athletic solvency, Rutgers races to compete with our new Big Ten peers, which boast profitable, self-sustaining athletics programs.


FOOTBALL OUTSPENDS PROFITS.  The belief that football is a financial boon to Rutgers is a myth.  According to a recent report from the AAUP, "of the more than one thousand college and university members of the NCAA, only twenty-three institutions reported that their athletic programs ran a surplus, with revenues greater than expenses."



MISMANAGEMENT BREAKS THE BUDGET.  Spending for general athletics administration nearly doubled in 2013, as management stumbled through a string of high-profile athletics scandals and the move to the Big Ten.  Rutgers University President Barchi vowed to take measures to balance the athletics deficit, promising near-solvency by 2022 — a plan projected to cost at least another $183 million of "direct institutional funding" and student fees.


BUYING PRIME TIME, SHAKING DOWN THE CLASSROOMS.  Coaches and top administrators are purported to bring value to the university, and their salaries, it is argued, must entice the best talent.  To continue Rutgers’ tradition of excellence in academics, where our faculty and departments are consistently recognized for their outstanding research and contributions, faculty and staff should be treated no differently.  Instead, they face cuts, freezes, and contingency on the job, while Rutgers management sits on $600 million in unrestricted funds.


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