Izzo Flunks Out
One of our alumni recently
wrote BOG chair Ralph Izzo to urge that Rutgers jettison Div
IA athletics, abolish "athletic scholarships," return
to participatory athletics, and resume
competition against Colgate, Princeton, Lafayette, Columbia,
Bucknell, LeHigh, Yale, and the other schools against which Rutgers
competed for over a century before its catastrophic plunge into
the "Big East" conference in 1994.
Mr Izzo, we are sorry
to report, responded as follows:
Dear Mr. ------------:
Thank you for writing
to me. I welcome your viewpoint as a fellow Rutgers alumnus and
appreciate hearing your thoughts on the role that athletics should
play at Rutgers. . . . We are committed to a course of action
designed to make our athletics program financially self-sufficient
over the long run. I must tell you, however, that the Board has
no plans to remove Rutgers from the most competitive athletics
division. We believe that, as state universities from Virginia
to Michigan to California have shown, high-level academics and
big-time sports can co-exist and even thrive within a public
You have my best wishes.
Chair of the Board of
Mr Izzo's letter has
been widely circulated among alumni concerned about the effects
of "big time" athletics at Rutgers, including "faculty
flight" -- e.g., the growing number of faculty leaving the
Rutgers Philosophy Department, until very recently the best in
the United States -- the decline in applications from bright
and intellectually engaged students, in favor of "party
animal" students who paint their faces and get drunk before
football games, the continued deterioration of Rutgers' "slum
campus," with its litter-strewn sidewalks, traffic-choked
streets, and disintegrating classroom and dormitory buildings,
and much more.
A number of Rutgers
alumni and alumnae sent us letters in response to Mr. Izzo's
From Bergen County:
"What does Ralph
Izzo mean by 'thrive'? Especially when he mentions the University
Is he thinking about
the Michigan where boosters paid nearly a million dollars in
under-the-table money to players on the 'Fab
team that took UM to the 'Final Four' in 1992 and 1993? Or about
Chris Webber, a member of the 'Fab Five' who lied to a Federal
Grand Jury about getting money from boosters? Or is Izzo thinking
about all those games and Big Ten championships that Michigan
had to forfeit when the FBI investigation brought the whole filthy
business into the open? Is that what he means by 'coexist'? By
'thrive'? Is that what he wants for Rutgers?
" I didn't believe
my eyes when I saw the part about how 'big-time athletics can
thrive' at Rutgers. That's what Francis Lawrence used to say.
If you asked Lawrence about Rutgers athletics, it was like putting
a record on: "There's no conflict between sports and academics.
What about Virginia? What about Michigan."
If you pointed out that
he was cherry-picking two or three names from a huge list of
schools -- 123 of them in Div IA football -- most of which had
(1) terrible academic standards and (2) scandals involving academic
fraud and booster payoffs simmering just beneath the surface,
he'd go right back to his Virginia, Michigan' mantra.
The RU alums I know
say that Izzo should tell us which of those 'big time' schools
the BOG wants Rutgers to imitate. Virginia Tech? Ohio State?
Nebraska? The University of Miami? There are over a hundred schools
out there where big time sports do 'coexist' with academics,
but the academics are sixth-grade level and the athletics are
rotten to the core."
"How can Izzo use
Michigan as an example? Does he know anything about the academic
fraud scandal they had in 2008, where a psychology professor
named Hagen was running hundreds of phoney 'Independent Study'
courses to keep football players eligible?
Did Izzo happen to see
the famous Ann
? About the 294 'Independent
Studies' this Hagan gave in one three-year period, 85% of them
to athletes? About how the Athletics Department was steering athletes into Hagen's 'Independent
Studies'? About the
discovery that that football players had been permitted to enroll
two months after the end of the add/drop period to get eligibility
grades from Hagen? Does Izzo know that none of these Michigan
athletes got a grade lower than B-?
Or was Izzo thinking
about Ojibwe, the Native American Language? Does he know that
Michigan football players who took five courses, getting A's
and B's, couldn't, when asked, say a word in Ojibwe?
Seriously, is this what
Izzo means by having big-time athletics and high-level academics
'co-exist and thrive'? Is this what he wants for Rutgers -- boosters
shoveling under-the-table money to promising recruits, 'athletics
friendly' faculty happy to do anything necessary to keep low-SAT
athletics eligible, money being poured down the athletics drain
while bright and intellectually deserving students are totally
neglected at the institution?
There's a presidential
search on at Rutgers right now. Mr Izzo is running it. I'd be
wiling to make a small bet about what kind of president Rutgers
is going to get."