Keep digging that hole

I get cranky when I post entries during the weekend. But once again, this could not wait.

A series of articles by Star- Ledger reporters Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin have shown that Mulcahy was less than upfront about the cost and ingredients of Schiano's contract. Such conduct should not be dismissed lightly -- even if it is by Mulcahy.

Notice the careful backtracking. They make zero mention of the fact that they are the ones that reported in 2006 the details of the arrangement with Nelligan Sports, and that their initial claim was that it was not disclosed - period.

His most questionable action involved negotiating a no- bid contract with a sports marketing firm. After the initial talks began, but before the contract was final, Nelligan Sports Marketing hired Mulcahy's son as one of the company's vice presidents. Mulcahy's son was still with the firm when the contract was amended in 2002.

Somebody who has been in government for as long as Mul cahy -- he was a member of the Byrne administration more than three decades ago -- cer tainly knows state ethics rules. They say public employees must not negotiate or oversee contracts that involve family members or their employers.

University lawyers somehow determined that the contract did not violate state ethics rules, although they did note that it might not pass the smell test. That alone should have been enough for Mulcahy and Rutgers to back away from the deal.

Except that to do so would have been complete lunacy with the current financial situation.

"In 1999 we were at the bottom of the barrel. Nobody wanted to deal with us," Mulcahy said. "I talked to Hosts (Communications), and they offered a 50-50 split on any business. Nelligan offered us a bigger deal. This was a no-brainer."

....

Amid accusations that NSM received preferential treatment when its agreement was twice extended without bid, Nelligan said, "Not true. The first contract had a three-year term if we hit a benchmark. So, if we hit a benchmark of success that was significantly higher than where we started, we automatically got three more years."

That benchmark, according to documents reviewed by the Home News Tribune, was met at $2.3 million in March 2003. The document shows that in eight years overall Nelligan has raised $22 million in sponsorship revenue, including $4 million during the 2007-08 season.

"The thing that gets lost is nobody's writing us a check from Rutgers," said Nelligan, whose company earns money through commission. "We're writing Rutgers checks for significantly more money than they've ever had before and we're also underwriting the expenses of radio broadcast time, the cost of producing coaches radio and television shows and signage production. Those expenses are paid for out of the corporate sponsorship that we've generated."

Rutgers is signed with NSM through June 20, 2017, according to an addendum drafted four years ago. The deal gives Nelligan exclusive rights to sell the university's marketing ventures.

"They basically guaranteed us $1.5 million," Mulcahy said. "And now they've raised that bar at over $4 million."

Mulcahy said the partnership "can't be measured," listing numerous benefits that NSM has delivered to Rutgers, including the purchase of two scoreboards for the football stadium worth more than $700,000 at no cost to the athletics department.

According to Nelligan, his company funded the scoreboard through incremental revenues generated through signage sales and noted that NSM didn't take commission on the sales utilized to fund the purchase.

In addition to Rutgers, NSM handles marketing for four collegiate conferences and 17 university athletics programs, including Monmouth and Princeton.

"Colleges can't do this on their own," Nelligan said. "So they outsource this task to a sports marketing entity like ours that has a better chance to get in with a CEO of a major Fortune 500 company."

"I believe that the corporate revenue will continue to increase and continue to help offset expenses, and continue to add more value for Rutgers," Nelligan added. "Our job is to maximize revenue and exposure for the university. And we've done a terrific job of doing that."

Back to the SL editorial:

So far, Gov. Jon Corzine has been silent about Mulcahy. That's puzzling, especially since he forced George Zoffinger to resign as executive director of the New Jersey Sports and Ex position Authority when a similar situation surfaced.

Zoffinger's son worked at a New York law firm that serves as the sports authority's general counsel. His son had noth ing to do with the firm's work for the state agency. His hiring predated his father's appointment as executive director.

Nevertheless, when that information surfaced, Zoffinger was out. At the very least, the governor should now ask for a review of the Mulcahy-Nelligan contact.

A.k.a., a person with a gigantic axe to grind and probably a major source for the series of articles.

President Richard McCormick, like Mulcahy, consistently forgot to mention a couple of aspects of Schiano's contract when his compensation was discussed. Like the side deal that provided another $250,000 in payments from the Nelligan company and was guaranteed by the school.

More important, McCormick and Mulcahy didn't publicly disclose that Schiano's deal allows him to leave Rutgers if the stadium expansion isn't finished by the 2009 season. Right now that timetable is looking tight -- if not impossible.

No it isn't, you complete liars. Their only source for the claim that Schiano has a stadium-related buyout was the lack of a denial in an interview with a less-than-informed Richard McCormick. Margolin and Sherman confronted him with a draft proposal (fixed unclear wording here - ed) that never was part of Schiano's final contract. Mulcahy has also indicated in interviews with more-responsible publications that the core seat expansion will be in place by 2009, and that's what most of us care about anyway.

I view this editorial as a last gasp by a desperate and wheezing corpse. Heads will roll. The New York Times defended Jayson Blair at first too. It's only a matter of time before the axe comes down on Margolin, Sherman, and their enablers.

Why is this so important? Here's the dirty little statistic that the Rutgers 10 doesn't want you to know:

During the 2007 season, football generated $6 million in ticket sales, $4 million as its share of Big East revenue, $3 million in corporate sponsorship and $1 million in parking and clothing revenue.

Also, the Scarlet R Club, which conducts fund-raising for the athletic department, also raised $7.4 million. Of that about $5.5 million was received from fans seeking priority seating for football games in 2007.

Against revenue of about $20 million the program cost about $15 million to operate.

"For the first time, we are generating revenues from the football team that are in excess to what we're spending," said Mulcahy.

For years, football was a complete sink on the university. Now it not only isn't, but it has a chance to be a significant cash cow over the long haul if these completely necessary expansions move forward.

Training camp starts Monday. Let's resolve to think happier thoughts then.

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