Rutgers Is Committed to Excellence in Academics and Athletics

by Richard L. McCormick, President
As submitted; published in the Trenton Times on September 2, 2008

Rutgers is proud to be The State University of New Jersey. We are one of the most respected public research universities in the nation, we offer New Jersey students remarkable educational opportunities, we provide innovative services to New Jersey’s public and private sectors, and we take our stewardship of state tax dollars very seriously. The proof of our success is clear—increased applications, increased campus visits, improved student profile, and increased giving to Rutgers. Rutgers has greater prestige, more appeal, and is in greater demand than ever.

In recent years, in these difficult economic times, we have accepted the responsibility of doing more with fewer state funds. The anticipated combination of base and salary appropriations for Rutgers this year—approximately $309.5 million—is $12.4 million less than the university received from the state nine years ago. We have made up for that by belt tightening and by more aggressively raising contributions from our alumni, supporters, and the private sector. And, as we always have done, we continue to exercise careful oversight of our resources and expenditures.

Every year, as required by the NCAA, a qualified independent accountant prepares a report on the revenues and expenditures of the university’s intercollegiate athletics program. This year, in addition to the annual external review, an audit of the business practices of the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics was conducted by the university’s Internal Audit Department. This audit is one of many conducted throughout the university on a regular basis by the Internal Audit Department to review the efficiency and effectiveness of operating procedures and internal controls.

The Internal Audit Department reports to the Audit Committee of the Rutgers Board of Governors. The confidential and advisory nature of such audits is essential to assure that the university administration and the Audit Committee receive honest and accurate assessments of the operations under review and so that they can initiate corrective actions if necessary. The Internal Audit Department's findings and recommendations regarding the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics were presented in a report to the university administration and the board's Audit Committee in February 2008. Rutgers Athletics, working with the university administration, immediately began to take action on each recommendation. Specifically:

  • Rutgers Athletics is in the process of hiring a deputy director of finance/administration, a position newly created to manage the division’s finance, budget, and accounting.
  • It is common practice for universities to contract with sports marketing firms to manage their sponsorships and pay certain associated expenses. Rutgers engages Nelligan Sports Marketing (NSM) for this purpose, and the net revenues from the NSM sponsorships are reflected in the intercollegiate athletics budget. The university is now exercising its right to audit the NSM contract and is reviewing the accounting procedures associated with the administration of the contract to ensure that all revenues and expenses are properly accounted for.
  • Rutgers Athletics is reviewing and updating its Policies and Procedures Manual to address the growth and increasing complexity in its operations. A preliminary draft is currently under review.

In addition to these efforts, a committee of prominent leaders from Rutgers and around the state is currently conducting a complete and candid review of the division's policies and practices. This committee is co-chaired by two well-respected Rutgers alumni: Alfred C. Koeppe, chief executive officer of the Newark Alliance, former president and chief operating officer of Public Service Electric and Gas Co., and former chair of the New Jersey Higher Education Commission; and Albert R. Gamper Jr., retired chairman of the board of CIT Group Inc. and former chairman of the Rutgers Board of Governors. The committee is expected to publicly release its findings in the fall.

Rutgers' success on the football field and in other intercollegiate sports is an important goal for the university, just as we enthusiastically celebrate the continued achievements of our top-ranked philosophy department; our cell and DNA repository—the largest university-based repository in the world; our nationally acclaimed women's and gender studies programs; and our four 2008 Gates Cambridge Scholarships winners (tied with Harvard for the most from any university). Academics and athletics can reinforce each other, which is why Rutgers remains committed to excellence in both.

Richard L. McCormick
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey