Statement on the Rutgers Athletics Debt Scandal and the Crisis in Higher Ed

TAKEAWAY: Rutgers sank hundreds of millions of dollars into athletics debt, lied about it, and then fired 1,000+ employees. Rutgers has more than enough money to provide us with better pay, job security, and low-cost health coverage. Join our campus meetings to win a stronger contract.

RSVP: New BrunswickNewarkCamden.

Dear PTL Colleague,

Last week, published a blockbuster investigative report revealing a massive financial scandal at Rutgers. The University funneled half a billion dollars into its athletics program, and it’s still in the red. Worse still, Rutgers reported these loans to its athletic program as revenue, violating NCAA guidelines and policies, and then tried to hide an even worse financial situation than we had already known about from the public.

How is Rutgers financing this massive debt? By taking resources away from education. A good portion of the vast sums wasted on athletics comes out of mandatory students’ fees (about $400 per student in New Brunswick), student tuition, and taxpayers’ pockets.

Meanwhile, over the past two years, Rutgers’ has been crying poverty when it comes to its adjunct faculty. It imposed a hiring freeze on all PTLs and then declared a fiscal emergency. It then laid off roughly 400 PTLs, thereby badly damaging its educational program and hurting our students. And it also laid off hundreds of other vulnerable workers.

Shouldn’t students be asked if they want to pay the huge price of subsidizing a money-losing athletics program? Shouldn’t parents and taxpayers know the deficits and debts Rutgers Athletics has accumulated? Aren’t we, as adjunct faculty, who teach tens of thousands of students every semester, entitled to decent pay, job security, and access to affordable health care?

We now know that Rutgers’ management has been draining money and resources for years from what should be the university’s core mission: teaching, learning, and research. Our union has no issue with supporting college athletics programs. We do have an issue with gross financial mismanagement, misplaced priorities, and debt-financing on the backs of students. As this essay clearly shows, university debt today is student debt tomorrow, and debt financing is killing public education.

What can we do? We must come together this year to fight for better working conditions. After all, our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions. Please join us at one of our three virtual campus meetings this fall to make a plan to win the working conditions we deserve.

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For more details on this scandal, click here and here. We’ve also posted a copy of the article in our private PTL Facebook group.

In solidarity,

PTLFC-AAUP-AFT Executive Board

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