An interesting article in the Buffalo News was referred to me by Matei of the State of Rutgers Board the other day. The purpose of the article was to push the author's proposal for having all collegiate sports privatized and paying collegiate athletes. Not exactly new territory. But what caught my eye was some rather derogatory language about Rutgers and its football program. Here it is:
Of interest to Buffalo area readers is a comparison of the University at Buffalo to Rutgers. Both schools have committed to upgrading athletics to big-time status, but there are vast differences in approaches. Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, may well be the poster child for university problems with big-time athletics. The school committed to a top 20 football program for the 21st century. But in the rush to athletic glory, many irregularities and problems arose: a questionable stadium expansion may need new taxpayer funds to complete; there were “secret” compensation packages for the coach, which caused a furor when revealed; and to save money, six Olympic sports were eliminated. UB has taken a more cautious and orderly approach. Athletic administrators have committed to bringing high-quality athletics and academic contributors to campus. According to UB’s Stephen Marth, sports editor of the student newspaper, student interest is very high and the campus has been energized by recent athletic successes.
A comparison of UB to Rutgers and Syracuse is worthwhile: Average SAT of all students: UB, 1,199; Rutgers, 1,184; Syracuse, 1,185. Average SAT of scholarship players in football: UB, 996; Rutgers, 938; Syracuse, 922.
Now this puzzled me. A Syracuse paper taking shots at Rutgers? Sure. SU fans don't like the fact that they are now the doormat in Big East football, not Rutgers. But this was a Buffalo paper. I like the job Buffalo has done with Turner Gill as coach. And I didn't realize there was bad blood between Buffalo and Rutgers.
Well there's not. The author, one Silvio Laccetti is a professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in good old Hoboken, NJ. At once I recognized the standard elitist argument on disbanding collegiate sports. Now you have to understand, a professor at Stevens has good reason not to like big time sports. Stevens' unsuccessful foray into football lasted from 1872-1891 during which they posted a winning record in only 3 of 19 seasons. Apparently their 12-10 loss to Rutgers that year was just too much, for they dropped football afterward. But fear not, Stevens has club sports such as cricket, ultimate frisbee, yacht club and Equestrian (western). (Thank god, I hate the English brand of equestrian events). So we should understand that Mr. Laccetti is not a Buffalo football fan. Just another Ivy League wannabe professor who likes to trash collegiate sports. (He and Dowling must play cricket together).
Let's look at the preeminent Professor's comments on Rutgers football. 1. A questionable stadium expansion that may need additional taxpayer money to complete. Uh, wrong professor, no taxpayer money is involved. It's all financed by bonds which will be paid off by the stadium revenues. (Remember Silvio is a professor of social science not finance, fortunately for any finance majors at Stevens.) 2. Secret compensation for the coach. Yes so secret they were reported on and made public at the time the original contract was negotiated. Strike two Silvio. 3. Six olympic sports were eliminated to save money. (Funny that this bothers the prof since Stevens doesn't have any NCAA sports). Yes Silvio they were eliminated. Something called NJ state budget cuts and Title IX. Things you don't have to worry about at private Stevens.
Then the professor drops his big bomb. The average SAT of football players at Buffalo is 58 points higher than the average SAT of Rutgers football players. This is the basis for the professor's belief that Buffalo's approach to building a competitive football program is "more cautious and orderly" while Rutgers is "the poster child for university problems with big time athletics."
That's the best you've got Silvio? Try this. Those extra 58 SAT points apparently don't help much. Because Buffalo graduates less than 50% of it's football players. In fact their APR is so poor, as of May, 2008 they were penalized by the NCAA, being limited to 23 scholarships. Buffalo's APR is 893 which places them in the 1st-10th percentile. That's bottom 10% professor. (Apparently Silvio's not too good at statistics either.) 925 means 50% graduate so Buffalo's not close. The average for state universities? 925. What's Rutgers' APR? 977, 90th-100th percentile, top 10%. Now there are schools who have better APR's than Rutgers. Actually two. Stanford and Navy. Rutgers tied for third with Duke. So professor maybe you should spend some more time in the library next time before you take potshots at Rutgers. But facts really don't matter when you're trying to support a position that you've already decided is right do they?
The professor's closing statement? We should privatize sports so universities can concentrate on keeping the United States competitive in the world. Yep, if it wasn't for Rutgers football, GM would be outselling Toyota. Damn you Greg Schiano! Your evil empire is now threatening not only Rutgers, not only the State of New Jersey but the entire country!
Keep it up.