Statement on the Report of the Athletics Review Committee

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

(November 19, 2008)

The Athletics Review Committee (ARC) has prepared a penetrating and compelling report on recent important issues that have arisen in the Rutgers Division of Intercollegiate Athletics and, just as essential, on the University’s governing practices. The members of the ARC have my thanks for the outstanding work they have done. Their report is consistent with what I had hoped for when I appointed the committee last summer. I asked the members of the committee to “probe deeply” all relevant issues and to bring forward constructive recommendations for improvements. Under the very capable leadership of co-chairs Al Koeppe and Albert R. Gamper Jr., that is just what the committee members have done. I applaud their work and welcome their recommendations.

The ARC report has achieved two essential results. One, a detailed and thorough summary of some key developments in intercollegiate athletics on the New Brunswick Campus, most especially Rutgers’contracts with Nelligan Sports Marketing and with football coach Greg Schiano. Two, some persuasive conclusions and recommendations for improving processes, decision-making, and governance at Rutgers. The committee identifies no illegal or unethical activities at Rutgers and does not raise concerns about the outcomes of decisions that were made by the University. The report also acknowledges that the changing culture of a rapidly developing NCAA Division I sports program has placed additional stress on the system at Rutgers. Nonetheless, the report challenges the University to improve substantially the way decisions regarding intercollegiate athletics are made in the future.

The ARC’s extensive narrative reveals the insulation of the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics in making some key decisions, the limitations of presidential leadership in the supervision of Intercollegiate Athletics, and the limited role of the Board of Governors in overseeing contractual activities regarding Intercollegiate Athletics. To someone who knows Rutgers, these findings ring true. They provide us with unassailable grounds for improving the way we do business at the University and for taking additional steps to manage effectively an increasingly successful and fiscally complex athletics program.

The ARC report is highly constructive. It concurs in corrective actions that Rutgers has already taken, and it also provides extremely valuable new recommendations for improving internal controls, facilitating inter-departmental and hierarchical communications, and strengthening presidential oversight and Board protocols. As the report notes, many steps have already been announced and are being implemented. Other recommended changes in the way the University operates, which are set forth in the report for the first time, deserve to be enacted by the administration and the Board of Governors. In accord with the report and in consultation with the Board of Governors, I will take the following immediate actions:

  1. I will clarify the scope of responsibility of the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and institute additional administrative oversight and presidential accountability where required.
  2. I will take additional steps to increase cross-departmental coordination and communication between the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics and other units of the University. As President, I have appointed the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Bob Mulcahy, to the President’s Cabinet and to the Administrative Council – the university’s two most senior administrative bodies. I have also established cross-departmental teams to evaluate athletics issues, such as stadium naming rights. As we continue to take close account of this report, I expect that more will be done along these lines.
  3. I will designate Rutgers’ Vice President and General Counsel, Jonathan Alger, as the Chief Compliance Officer for the University with responsibility for policy and procedures, compliance monitoring, and enforcement.
  4. I will establish an inter-departmental committee on risk management to strengthen the University’s compliance efforts and to create a forum for senior leadership consideration of university-wide issues.
  5. I will ask the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration, Bruce Fehn, to ensure that the Internal Audit Department is adequately staffed to meet the growing demands of the University. Rutgers has already made progress on this front. Vice President Fehn has developed a multi-year plan to increase the size of the department, and two additional auditors will be hired this academic year. As part of its audit plan, Internal Audit has conducted a risk analysis of the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, and has identified a set of priority areas to be examined within the division.
  6. I will see that the University’s contract development review and approval processes for the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics conform to the standards required of a leading athletics program. Rutgers has already appointed a Deputy Director of Athletics for Finance and Administration to oversee all financial and administrative operations. The Deputy Director, who reports directly to the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration, began his work at Rutgers on November 10. In addition, the University is finalizing a comprehensive manual on policies and procedures for the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. We will complete the manual by the end of December 2008.
  7. I have established a committee to develop a signatory authority policy to codify and clarify approval authorities for contracts.
  8. I will establish a policy that requires the use of written employment contracts for coaches and forbids, as a general practice, the use of side letters unless there is a justification approved by the Office of General Counsel to do so.
  9. I will implement the recommendation that the President and the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics approve the compensation arrangements of head coaches. If the coach’s compensation exceeds that of the President, I will take the contract, as well as any renewals, extensions, or modifications, to the Board for approval.
  10. I will publicly share my schedule for implementing the steps to improve governance and accountability and will regularly report the Administration’s progress toward these goals at the public meetings of the Rutgers Board of Governors. The first of these reports will take place at the December 12, 2008 meeting of the Board of Governors.
  11. I will take forward to the Board of Governors the ARC recommendations that require board approval and will then work with the Board to implement those recommendations it accepts.

The ARC report acknowledges that “Rutgers has long been regarded as an excellent public research university, and it is now developing a more prominent athletics reputation in line with other highly rated comprehensive public research universities.” It also notes that “the University’s overall performance is strong and admirable in many categories.” However, any institution that aspires to achieve even greater accomplishments and to realize the highest ideals should periodically take stock of what it has done and ask how it can do better. The thorough analyses, candid reporting, and thoughtful recommendations generated by the members of the Athletics Review Committee in their nearly four months of work will lead to constructive change at Rutgers. The University is more committed than ever to the values of accountability, transparency, and rigorous adherence to established procedures for decision-making. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, supporters, and the citizens of New Jersey expect and deserve no less.