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The story that should not be

Firstly, I would like to remind any readers to read this 2006 Star-Ledger story about the Nelligan Sports deal.

Ben Doody takes Rutgers to task for not being more upfront about the arrangement, but strongly emphasizes that this story is largely a bunch of hot air.

Some more details are trickling out.

The university's Board of Governors ordered an internal audit of the Nelligan contract in April, the university says.

The independent review requested by McCormick is the second one announced this week. On Monday, the state comptroller launched an inquiry into the financial details of a $102 million expansion of Rutgers Stadium that is under way.

Rutgers' public affairs office on Wednesday released a five-page paper explaining its history with Nelligan, a Little Falls-based firm that also works for the University of Louisville, Colorado State University and several other college sports programs.

The contract was not put out to bid partly because Rutgers' football team was so lousy in the late 1990s that sports marketing firms did not seem interested in competing for the contract, the university said.

Nelligan has helped the university in several ways, including lining up corporate sponsors, increasing media exposure and even paying for new scoreboards. Over eight years, the company has helped the school get $22 million in sponsorship money, Rutgers says. The company's contract has been extended to 2017.

The university said that in 2000, the school's lawyers found that it did not violate a state conflict of interest law for the university to do business with a firm employing Mulcahy's son, though it may cause the appearance of a conflict.

The university and T.J. Nelligan, the founder and chairman of the sports marketing company, also said that Mulcahy had nothing to do with his son's employment there and that the younger Mulcahy did not work on the Rutgers account. The younger Mulcahy left Nelligan in 2002.

T.J. Nelligan on Wednesday said the Star-Ledger seems to be looking for a scandal where none exists. "The story of us creating more partnerships and creating more revenue is the best story that Rutgers has,'' he said. "I make no apologies for the great success our company and our people have had at Rutgers.''

Gov. Jon S. Corzine said he did not know if there was anything illegal about Schiano's contract, but he is troubled that parts of it were not made public from the start.

"I think they made a mistake by not making all elements of the contract, or at least the compensation package, public,'' he said Wednesday. "Everybody would have been better served.''

Emphasizing the point about Nelligan.

As for the 2000 Nelligan deal, it's not as if Rutgers had marketing companies knocking down the door. When Nelligan was losing other Big East clients, Mulcahy certainly didn't grant any favors. He squeezed Nelligan for two stadium scoreboards worth $700,000.

Finally, posters at NJO are pushing back against the Star Ledger.

• Greg Schiano is the honorary coach of the Special Olympics
• Because of Nelligan Sports Marketing's fundraising efforts, Rutgers' revenues have skyrocketed over the last several years, and these revenues have saved NJ taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years!
• Thanks to Coach Schiano, the team itself and Nelligan Sports Marketing, Rutgers University and its football team have enjoyed increases in donations, applications, product sales, as well as unprecedented National TV exposure and a huge increase in its total revenue.
• Over the last few years, Rutgers has enjoyed probably its best recruiting years in the history of the school.
• NSM doesn't get paid by Rutgers; it gets paid a percentage of the revenue they raise. This is a true "pay for performance" deal, something to which most corporate CEOs and other businesses should pay attention!
• Nelligan Sports Marketing paid almost a million dollars of its own money to buy Rutgers Stadium a world class state-of-the-art scoreboard that replaced a high school grade scoreboard.
• Coach Schiano's contract, and its many clauses that were designed to KEEP him here in NJ, is no different than other such contracts in college football, or anywhere else in the business world for that matter. It is not inappropriate. It is totally appropriate!