Can Rutgers University Be Fixed?
Something is rotten in the state of New Jersey -- specifically New Brunswick, the home of Rutgers University, the state’s largest public university and the crown jewel in its higher-education system.
Anyone who owns a computer or TV has seen the endlessly repeated video of the school’s basketball coach physically abusing players and hurling out the most vile homophobic epithets that would make the characters in "An Officer and a Gentleman" blush.
The coach, Mike Rice, has since been fired. In the ensuing media firestorm, the university quickly also fired its athletic director, who, in turn, pointedly castigated the school’s legal counsel, who also ended up taking one for the team.
The fish, however, stinks from the head, and nowhere is that more true than in this tawdry scandal. The president of the university, Robert Barchi, is a textbook example of how the Peter Principle at work. It also points up, as if we needed another example, of how the heads of large corporate bodies never act in a scandal, only react, because their putting their own butts first causes fatal myopia.
Barchi is an academic, not an administrator. The Peter Principle states that every employee rises to his or her level of incompetence; in other words, if you’re good at something, you’re eventually pushed into managing others. Which means that, instead of doing what you do well, you’re doing something for which you have no expertise or experience. Oh yes: He’s also paid $650,000 a year.
Months ago, confronted with his behavior, the school’s administration suspended him for a few games and fined him $50,000, which sounds like a lot until you consider that he was making $700,000 and change a year. (That doesn’t include the inevitable benefits and perks, which, as we learned in the Paterno-Penn State scandal, are enough to make the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch blush.)
At the time, no one in the media or anywhere else questioned the decision or even why it was made. Rice’s abusive behavior would have continued, and he would have continued to rule the roost if not for the recent video.
It has since come to light that the president and others were much more concerned with the legal niceties about Rice’s behavior than any ethical concerns.
It just keeps getting worse as more snafus up and down the line come to light. Reports have surfaced that Barchi never even viewed the video before finally firing Rice. So concerned with a merger of medical institutions mandated by the state’s legislature, Barchi continued to treat problems at the university’s athletic department as a side issue.
The athletic department was given a pass after it managed to enter the ranks of the Big Ten. Even though the school’s teams notoriously suck, the finagling into the intercollegiate athletics’ star system means big bucks from media contracts, TV coverage and donations from sports-obsessed big-pocket alumni.
Thanks to the university’s total fuck-up, Rice will receive $1.0875 million after termination.
This is the second time that Rutgers has made headlines in recent years. In 2011, freshman Tyler Clementi jumped off a bridge after his roommate set up a hidden video camera to record his meeting with a male townie. The roommate invited friends over to watch Clementi kiss the man.