Shame on the Banks of the Raritan

RThe last football game Rutgers won was when they beat Indiana. That’s nice. Winning is always better than losing. But winning a game against a weak opponent (or even a stronger opponent) doesn’t mask the stench of an out of control athletic department which continues to bring shame to the University.

Coach Kyle Flood was not on the sidelines for 3 games earlier this year, because of his suspension for trying to strong arm an adjunct professor into giving a star player “another chance” to improve his grade in what we used to call a “gut” course (super easy, where you easily build your GPA). The course was Dance Appreciation–I used to love those kind of classes–and the student in question was former Rutgers cornerback Nadir Barnwell, who separately was later suspended on different (and far worse) circumstances.

Coach Flood was clearly trying to “gently coerce” an adjunct prof, the lowest rung on the academic totem pole, to give another opportunity to the student. Coach Flood knew what he was doing, used his private email, and leaned subtly, but heavily, into an adjunct professor. Flood earns more than $1MM annually and the adjunct probably earns around $5000 for this class. In fact, Barnwell handed in an extra paper, admittedly “edited” by the Coach, (what!) in an attempt to raise his grade. How pathetic.

This follows the suspension of five players, including the previously mentioned Barnwell, who were arrested and charged with aggravated assault, riot, and conspiracy to commit a riot for their alleged roles in an incident in August where the six people assaulted a group of four others.

Simply said, Coach Flood, who apparently is well liked by the players, has lost control of his team, or at a minimum lost control of good judgment. In any event Rutgers is clearly not attracting high character student athletes to the program, and then Flood got caught red handed trying to cover up a player’s academic deficiencies by trying to coerce an adjunct prof.

“Our faculty must have complete independence in executing their duties and there is a reason why we prohibit athletics coaching staff from discussing the academic standing of students with faculty. We have policies in place to protect academic integrity and to ensure that any faculty member, whether tenured or untenured, whether full-time or part-time, is free of intimidation and interference by outside parties.”, said Barchi, who also said termination of Coach Flood was on the table.

Yes, I know that’s probably what other coaches do at major Universities.

But for what?

Rutgers is NEVER going to be a big time power in football or basketball in the Big Ten. There’s no shame in that reality, but it is the truth. I would rather my University get its ass kicked proudly than to be pained about the crap that goes on. While at the same time, Rutgers whines about the lack of donations from alumni compared to other Big 10 schools?

And the stench goes higher than the football program. Our AD, Julie Hermann, is classless, last year chastising knucklehead 19 year old guys for their “Ped State” T-shirts (which shamefully I probably would have worn myself when I was a knuckleheaded 19-year old) when Rutgers played Penn State at home last year. Then just a few weeks later she made stupid, sophomoric remarks herself about convicted pedophile, Jerry Sandsuky. I expect sophomoric behavior from sophomores (by definition), not from our AD. All this while saying that she wishes NJ’s largest newspaper, The Star Ledger, goes out of business because they say bad things about her—boohoo, Julie. At the same, time she gladly takes credit for increased attendance at football games—solely based on Rutgers admission into the Big Ten orchestrated by her predecessor, Tim Pernetti, a far better AD. Pernetti’s crime was being a stand-up guy who foolishly did not fire their basketball coach years ago, but only suspended him, a decision blessed by Rutgers President, Bob Barchi. Barchi then threw Pernetti under the bus and distanced himself from a decision he was aware of. Then the University, again under Barchi’s watch, didn’t due sufficient due diligence when they hired Hermann.

The bottom line is that former AD, Pernetti, was a class act who made a bad decision. The non-class acts are Flood, Julie Hermann, and alas the President Bob Barchi, who lets the nonsense continue. One of the many jobs of the President of the University is protector of the “brand”. Rutgers is a fine university and provides excellent value for smart kids from New Jersey, which make up the bulk of its student base. The brand is tarnished and the President needs to own its diminished luster.

It’s time to start over and replace the football coach and AD, and build an athletic department that spends less, loses less money, and yes, probably loses more football and basketball games than they win. And now that Rutgers and UMDNJ are merged, Barchi can gracefully retire soon as well. Can’t we just win or lose games with dignity and no longer be the object of ridicule?

RU, rah rah. RU, rah rah. Ooh rah, ooh rah, Rutgers rah.

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One Comment

  1. Isaac Segal says:

    In the style of Amazon—

    People who liked this column might also like the book reviewed here:

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