By Patricia Alex And Leslie Brody, Staff Writers, The Record
Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi promised to put university athletics on the path to solvency, but during his first year in office the school boosted its support to the money-losing department by two-thirds to nearly $47 million — reportedly making Rutgers the most highly subsidized public sports program in the nation, documents show.
The increase, found in the university’s required financial report to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, comes at a time when students at the state school grapple with one of the highest public tuitions in the nation and the state faces a huge budget shortfall.
“If you do the arithmetic on how much money we’re being told is going to come in from the Big Ten, it’s not as rich a pot as it looks like” and wouldn’t cover the investment being made now, said Lucye Millerand, president of the Union of Rutgers Administrators. “There are questions about whether this can ever be a self-sustaining program, let alone a profit-making program; very few schools’ athletic departments are. Who the heck breaks into that closed circle?”
Millerand said student fees had risen steeply in recent years, making Rutgers’ cost increasingly prohibitive.
“You can invest in staff, you can invest in students. … The fact this [athletics] is the No. 1 priority for what we can do with these increased student fees is unfair,” she said.