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Not much of a secret, was it?

Thanks to an intrepid poster on the NJO forums...

SPORTSPlan: Boost in salary covered by boosters MATTHEW FUTTERMANSTAR-LEDGER STAFF743 words5 December 2006The Star-LedgerFINAL59English(c) 2006 The Star-Ledger. All rights reserved.

Here come the boosters.

The minute state Senate President Richard Codey got off the phone with Rutgers' head football coach last Friday, he knew what was going to happen.

Greg Schiano was going to stay at Rutgers instead of jumping to the University of Miami. and Rutgers was going to give him more money.

State and university officials were going to have to start hitting up private sources to cover the raise.

"I don't know numbers, but I'm thrilled he's staying," Codey said yesterday after Schiano announced he would remain. "The university has to make the decision for what is best and how much success they can accomplish. They came within an inch of the Orange Bowl and maybe another $10 million when you consider the intangibles. Are those intangibles worth it? I think they are."

Perhaps, but as Rutgers continues its struggle through a budget crisis that includes cutting six varsity sports after this year, the university will have to enter new territory by seeking private funding to give Schiano his due as one of the country's top young football coaches. Rutgers has used public money to pay Schiano $250,000 and $625,000 from "Nelligan Corporate Sponsorship moneys" according to his contract. That provision refers to Nelligan Sports Marketing, the Little Falls company that sells advertising for the university's athletic program.

The guaranteed money rises to $675,000 from 2007 through 2010 and to $750,000 in 2011 and 2012. Now Rutgers will follow the formula of several other major public universities, which often turn to local alumni and businesses to pay a substantial chunk of their football coach's salary.

Seton Hall did it in the 1980s when it wanted to keep basketball coach P.J. Carlesimo and asked its well-known supporters, including Robert Brennan, Frank Walsh and Dennis Kozlowski, to donate money for the specific purpose of giving the coach more. In exchange, boosters get prime seats and entertainment at games, and access to the coaches, who come speak to their companies or local teams for free.

It's a step that has burned football programs in the past, when boosters have gotten too close to the team and handed no-show jobs to players, but college sports experts say if the proper controls are put in place, everyone can win.

"To compete at the highest level, you have to have involvement from private dollars and alumni," said T.J. Nelligan, principal at Nelligan Sports Marketing, which serves as Rutgers' link to the corporate community. "Greg Schiano did the best job of any college coach in any sport in the country. He put the school on the map. He deserves to be paid with the top people in his industry."

Coaches including the University of Southern California's Pete Carroll, Notre Dame's Charlie Weis, and Ohio State's Jim Tressel, receive about $2 million to $3 million each year.

Schiano likely would receive about half that, which would make him one of the highest-paid coaches in the Big East Conference.

George Zoffinger, chief executive of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and the chairman of the Rutgers board of governors audit committee, said raising a half-million dollars from local alumni and business interests for Schiano was the right move if it means saving the six sports the university wants to cut.

"You have a lot of people in these (Olympic) sports that have been cut resentful of the football program," Zoffinger said. "If we could do both things - save the other sports and keep Schiano for the long term - it could work because the success of the program is generating excess funds to do that."

With Schiano staying, Rutgers also is likely to want to expand the stadium and add luxury suites and club seating, which could cost tens of millions of dollars, Zoffinger said. Ron Giaconia, chairman of the intercollegiate athletics committee for the university's board of governors said turning to private sources to enhance athletics spending would be nothing new for Rutgers.

"The Scarlet R already raises $6 million a year," Giaconia said of the athletic department's fundraising arm. "The president and the athletic director have a good idea of what they have to do, and they have already received enough instruction."