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Rutgers report raises more questions than it answers

Official report on Rice scandal lacks sufficient depth, offers ridiculous conclusion

Andy Marlin

It's official; the foxes are guarding the hen house.

Sound arguments generally consist of a few standard parts. There are premises, where the arguer is stating simple matters of fact. There's the core reasoning itself ("we agree on premise A, and conclusion C naturally follows from that because of reason B"), and the final conclusion. Yesterday's report on the Mike Rice scandal failed that basic test in that its argument and conclusion have absolutely nothing to do with the matters of fact discussed in it, and the report additionally lacked any substantive detail at all. Very simply, it is an attempt to not only whitewash and absolve Rutgers officials from the blame and complicity in this affair that is rightly theirs, bury the incident and move on (for better or worse), but also embolden ongoing attempts for a naked political grab at our university.

As the report states, Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti wanted to fire basketball coach Mike Rice as his first, initial reaction. Through conversations with university officials, Pernetti was convinced not to fire Rice, although the report makes clear that lead university counsel John Wolf did not make that specific recommendation. This raises an obvious, extremely pressing question. If not Wolf, then who pushed to keep Rice? It is beyond suspect, frankly incredulous, that the report shows no curiosity or interest into this critical, essential question. Who knew what, and when did they know it? Pernetti is the only person who even remotely acted like a responsible adult in all of this and he's gone, and the enablers, cronies, and sycophants who insisted that Rice keep his job remain not only in place, but more powerful than ever.

Scratch that, they'll have even more power! The report says that Tim Pernetti, of his own volition, would have fired Mike Rice. Therefore, it concludes, let's give even more power to the people who convinced Pernetti to keep the embattled coach. How does that even remotely, in any universe, follow from even these sparse details? The athletic department doesn't need more oversight. They were going to do the right thing until the university governing structure intervened. No, the correct conclusion is to blow up that structure. The Rutgers Board of Governors, by virtue of its being composed of political appointees, brought the same group think and poor decision making that is characteristic of the worst excesses of the statehouse in Trenton into the hallowed halls of Old Queens in New Brunswick.

No, if we're actually trying to learn lessons from this sordid affair, or the Julie Hermann debacle, we need to get rid of the hacks and put power back where it belongs. Each individual component of Rutgers University, such as the athletic department, needs a strong, independent manager with sufficient authority and autonomy, even if the current athletic director is unqualified and unworthy of the position. Furthermore, the BoG needs to be dissolved and discarded, with true, sole authority given back to Board of Trustees. The BoT are the only administrators who have actually looked out for the best interests of Rutgers University over the past few years, which naturally put them right in the cross hairs recently of Trenton's most corrupt politicians. The time has come to dissolve the BoG, and stop rewarding the people who have actually caused these problems, because if we actually follow the recommendations of this report, Rutgers will not only have learned nothing, it will have actively made the existing governance problems far, far worse.