A number of alumni have been kind enough to forward to us letters prompted by our "Call to Arms" page.
The two below seem to us exemplary in the way they address the relation between athletics corruption and the decline of academic and intellectual values at Rutgers.
We invite alumni, faculty, students and parents who have written letters to the Board of Governors, the RU Alumni Association, the RU Student Assembly, or their state legislators to send us copies. We will post them in an appropriate format as they come in.
6th July 2011
Mr. Ralph Izzo
Chair, Board of Governors
Dear Mr. Izzo,
I am a graduate of Rutgers College, Class of 1974. For several years I have watched with apprehension the University's attempts to achieve recognition through its athletic programs.
I was one of the many alumni who believed that the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on sports should have been used to raise academic standards and to improve the appearance of the campus. If the money had been spent for these purposes perhaps Rutgers finally would have become a top public university.
Instead, a school whose chief rival used to be Princeton chose to compete with notorious football factories, even as its reputation steadily declined in national scholastic rankings.
Now that Rutgers faces an unprecedented fiscal crisis I ask why large subsidies continue to be given to the athletic department. Rather than to throw good money after bad, I urge the Board of Governors to devote all available resources to improving academic instruction and the quality of the student body.
Make Rutgers a highly selective institution (like the College of New Jersey), attract more out-of-state students (I was one), and convince the people of New Jersey that Rutgers is more than a safety school. The abolition of big-time sports and the restoration of participatory athletics would be a first step in this direction.
Very truly yours,
Walter Boldys graduated from Rutgers College in 1974 with high honors and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He graduated from Boston University School of Law in 1977, and for many years worked as a specialist in real estate and finance law at John Hancock Financial Services. He is now in private practice in Boston.
The college that has a sports program for any other reason than an educational reason is soon going to lose control of the program.
If the college goes in for sports as a part of a program of public entertainment and public relations, then the public will dictate the kind of entertainment it wants.
If the reason is fund-raising, then the fund-raisers and the potential donors will dictate the program.
Whatever the reason may be, the college has lost control, including the control of those parts of its education policy which are related, such as admissions.
Mason Welch Gross
16th President of Rutgers University
Mason Gross's background as Rutgers' most distinguished president included a career as a gifted college athlete. To read a reminiscence of his own undergraduate athletic experience, click here on Mason Gross on Athletics.
Note: the following was written by a Rutgers alumnus (Karl Engelman '55) to a fellow alumnus who denounced a Star Ledger editorial about Rutgers athletics as being based on "bias and pure fabrication." That denunciation concluded with a suggestion that everyone go to a booster blog entitled "On the Banks" to see a point-by-point refutation of the Star Ledger editorial. Those who did so found a screed accusing the Star Ledger of "having it in for Rutgers," and citing the ad hoc justifications offered by former athletics director Robert Mulcahy and other athletics department personnel as "proof" that the Star Ledger had not gotten its facts right. Dr. Engelman's response was as follows:
With all due respect to your expertise in publishing and advertising, to accept the empty platitudes contained in that blog as direct and valid responses to the question of an athletic budget gone amuck, is a disservice to reason and logic. The numbers are the numbers. Whether a deficit occurs because of increased expenditures or due to revenue deficiencies, a deficit is still a deficit, especially when there is a crisis of financing of the primary role of a college, education, not athletics.
Witness the dire situation of our country as a far more important example of the same. Financial balances are a matter of addition and subtraction, simple math.
What really makes me sick to my stomach is this incessant glorification of the acclaimed stellar APR of Rutgers football players. Remember years ago when computer geeks spoke of "Gi-Go" ( Garbage in-Garbage out), meaning that what you get out of the computer was a function of what data you put in.
So it also is with "student" athletes: make up the appropriate courses, enlist compliant and complicit faculty, encourage "majors" that require no work or intelligence, and you can get guys with IQ's of 90 to do genius work. But, are they able to read, reason and act in the realm of truly functional college graduates?
Now, as to the fact that Schiano's pay, to some significant degree, comes from a commercial source (Nelligan) and not from the university budget. Unfortunately, as a professor I am forced to believe that the blog writer ranks in intelligence with the aforesaid athletes. Does he truly believe in Santa Claus? Do all of you who subscribe to that ruse not understand that the monies (share of Nelligan profits) going to Schiano, might not have otherwise gone to the university if the contract writers were so inclined? So, who is really paying?
I've got a suggestion for all who believe that the money comes from heaven. Organize a petition to tear down the statue of Willie the Silent and substitute an even larger one of St. Nicholas.
C'mon guys, we went to Rutgers at a time when it was an educational institution, not a sports factory for hirelings. Ask Angie; I've been told authoritatively that he tried to downplay how good his grades actually were so as not to blemish his reputation as an athlete. We were privileged to go to Rutgers at a time when you knew and valued the constant interchange with the athletes on campus and you could be proud to call them classmates, which is exactly what they were. Today, they are more like caged animals or gladiators, sequestered off in group dorms, dining halls and special classrooms and majors.
Rutgers, especially under the ill-fated reigns of Lawrence and McCormick, has deteriorated in national esteem as an institution of higher learning. And, you know what, we're still not held in any esteem as a football or basketball power. And why should we be?
As an aside, but relative to the above comments, I was persuaded to organize and put on an alumni luncheon for Fran Lawrence down here in South Carolina during his last year in office. I had the misfortune to sit next to him at lunch and to have to speak with him. I was appalled. The man was a certified idiot, an embarrassment to the profession of professor or college president.
Happy July 4th to all of of you who joined together in entering Rutgers 60 years ago as the Class of 1955 .
Karl Engelman, M.D., graduated from Rutgers summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1955, and from Harvard Medical School in 1959. As an undergraduate, he was a member of Cap and Skull, vice-president of Crown and Scroll and the Interfraternity Council, and secretary-treasurer of Scarlet Key. He retired as Professor of Medicine at UPenn several years ago. As a Rutgers alumnus, he served as class officer and class correspondent for more than 50 years.