The Star-Ledger blows it (again)

The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Once again, a writer with the Newark Star-Ledger has printed mistruths about Rutgers football as a result of shoddy research of what should be basic, fundamental facts. For all the good that writers like Tom Luicci and Steve Politi have done with their reporting and commentary, the pattern that keeps occurring is the SL continually assigns these interlopers who don't have a clue what they are talking about, and end up doing seriously damage to the paper's institutional credibility. This particular incident does not quite get to the level of the slanderous lies from Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin at the behest of a Rutgers BoG member that was trying to get former athletic director Bob Mulcahy fired, but it's pretty bad nonetheless. It's probably for the best to summarily tear this to shreds before we all get started on our morning tea, so shall we?

Not only does Stanmyre's piece start out by strongly mischaracterizing comments from new university president Robert Barchi (what Barchi has actually said publicly is 100% consistent with similar comments from former president Richard McCormick and athletic director Tim Pernetti), but his piece contains a laughable assertion about the athletic department deficit that is easily disproven in about five minute's of research..

The football program lost $1.3 million, records show, but the loss would have been significantly higher if not for a change in how the athletic department accounts for the debt payments on the controversial expansion of the football stadium. Unlike previous years, the 2011 report allocates debt payments on the football stadium to the athletic department, not the football program.

This bit, and really the entire tone of the piece, are meant to imply that the football program is responsible for the majority of the athletic department's deficit. That is nonsense, and easily disproven. NCAA research shown that, on average, olympic sports are the big net revenue losers, and it is certainly the case at Rutgers that football and men's basketball generate the majority of gross revenue. The critical point however is that Stanmyre's specific assertion is so misleading that it can fairly be categorized as a blatant lie.

Unlike Stanmyre, Rutgers fans can spend two minutes on Google and provide enough relevant context. Meaning that it would kind of be relevant to, you know, give the 2010 figure as a basis of comparison. That is 2,164,022 (scroll to Direct Institutional Support at the very end.) That means that a minor accounting change was responsible for shrinking the on-paper subsidy to the football program by a tiny amount, not the millions that Stanmyre's weasel words were implying. You do have to commend him for one thing though; given this flub, we can now easily dismiss Mark Killingsworth's contention that Rutgers and KPMG were cooking the books on athletic department funding to hide the costs of stadium expansion.

More than anything, this screwup makes me want to see the updated numbers for 2012 and beyond. Greg Schiano's contract is off the books, and Tim Pernetti has been looking for new revenue sources in areas like actually selling edible concessions, which some have argued hurt the athletic department's on-paper revenue figures because it was providing a subsidy to university dining services that was counted as a loss for the purpose of accounting. Oh yeah, turning Rutgers athletic programs into winners and being the prime mover in Big East television contract negotiations are kind of relevant to this whole discussion as well. As Pernetti has said, there is no spending problem at Rutgers comparatively, if you look at peer FBS athletic departments. The issue is a lack of revenue directly tied to the awful Big East television contract. (If you want to get historic, the bigger issue in all of this has been that Rutgers neglected and de-emphasized athletics for decades, until very recently.) Fix that problem, and the deficit shrinks to manageable levels overnight.

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