Earlier this week, a New Jersey superior court judge had to order management to turn over information about the tens of millions of dollars funneled annually to its money-losing Rutgers Athletics program. That’s the second time in less than a year that our union had to go to court because the administration was keeping financial information secret from us, flagrantly disregarding the state Open Public Records Act (OPRA).
Hopefully this new ruling will further expose the steep price we all pay—students, their parents, faculty, and staff alike—for an athletics program that drains tens of millions of dollars from the parts of Rutgers that do the teaching and learning, research, and service. We hope our latest legal victory will open the way for an honest discussion about priorities at our university.
You’ve heard all this before, but if you’d like a refresher: For a decade, Rutgers Athletics has needed an ongoing annual subsidy, generated largely through mandatory student fees and transfers from the university’s academic programs, to cover a budget deficit of between $20 million and $40 million. The gap has widened recently; the administration’s own unit-by-unit budget summary estimated that athletic program revenues would fall short of expenses by $57.2 million for the last fiscal fiscal year, with another shortfall of $39.6 million expected in 2021–22. Imagine what that money could support if it was put to use in our departments and programs, which generate Rutgers’ revenues in the first place.
As our colleague Mark Killingsworth said in the media statement we released yesterday: “That’s a conscious choice. These people have decided that Rutgers has got to be in big-time athletics, and they will spare no expense—particularly if it comes out of someone else’s pocket to do that.”
We’re proud of our union’s success on two fronts: 1) A judge has once again sent a message to management that Rutgers is a public institution and should freely share information about its finances with the Rutgers community and the people of New Jersey; and 2) We highlighted the question that matters much more than whether the football team wins or loses this year: are any of the rest of us winners when Rutgers loses tens of millions of dollars every year on athletics?
Becky and Todd
Rebecca Givan, President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
Todd Wolfson, General Vice President, Rutgers AAUP-AFT
P.S. Bring your questions to our Health and Safety Town Hall meeting on Wednesday, August 25, at 5 p.m., where we’ll hear from our union’s experts on the subject, along with faculty sharing their experiences of teaching in-person last spring. Click here to RSVP.
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