July 14, 2008
To: Carol Herring, President, Rutgers Foundation
From: Rudolph S. Rasin,
Thanks for your note about the funding of the Rutgers stadium expansion as it bears on my own willingness to give to the Rutgers Foundation at this time.
As you correctly see, one of my concerns has to do with the purely economic grounds on which the stadium project is being floated. It would take a great deal more time than either of us has to explain why propositions about how the expansion will be financed by football receipts comes across as pie-in-the sky financing to anyone with a background in finance and corporate management, which require decisions made upon realistic Return on Investment calculations.
Still, the pie-in-the sky aspect of the stadium project is the least of my own objections, and those of other Rutgers alumni I know. The real objections, as you perhaps know, have to do with (1) the abolition of Rutgers participation in an old and honorable tradition of amateur athletics, (2) the attempt of a small group of Scarlet R boosters on the BOG to turn Rutgers into a sports factory along the lines of Virginia Tech or Ohio State, and (3) the serious damage to academic and intellectual values that has already been done by this sports build-up.
Among the concerns of alumni to whom this represents a betrayal of the Rutgers from which they themselves graduated are the following:
Theres one other point I might mention. You say that, because the stadium expansion is being undertaken with funds provided by those who are not inclined to give to other areas of the university, that Rutgers is not taking from academics to help athletics.
Thats true in some narrow sense, but there is a larger moral and practical issue involved.
Consider this: a recent survey of the physical plant at Rutgers indicated that the amount needed to take care of deferred maintenance costs is just over half a billion dollars.
That isnt half a billion dollars that would be spent on eliminating the weed-grown parking lots and litter-strewn sidewalks that have currently given Rutgers the reputation of having the ugliest campus of any state university in the country. Its money that would be used to try to arrest the decay of a terminally decaying campus.
To make Rutgers into a setting that would do honor to its students and alumni the ripping up of traffic-choked thoroughfares, the building of parking decks to eliminate areas like the grease truck parking lot, the construction of student theater facilities and seminar rooms on the College Avenue campus would, doubtless, take another half billion.
That being the case, the fact that some boosters are willing to contribute to a stadium expansion while Rutgers is being tragically neglected seems to me worse than irrelevant.
In a word, I dont think that the Rutgers Foundation ought to be accepting a cent to be squandered on million-dollar coaches and skybox stadiums when the university is in a state of tragic neglect. Should some individuals indicate that theyre willing to give to the football franchise, but not to anything else, it seems to me that the only honorable answer is Thanks very much, but we dont want your money.
That, at least, would have the advantage of showing the outside world that the Rutgers Foundation thinks of Rutgers first of all as an institution of higher learning, not as a football or basketball franchise.