In a recent vote by the New Jersey General Assembly’s higher education committee — whether to fund a special care treatment center at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine — three members voted against the funds due to football head coach Greg Schiano’s contract, according to an article on NJ Advance Media.
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll said that he has an issue approving money now that Rutgers has agreed to pay Schiano $32 million, according to the article.
“I have no objection whatsoever to spending money on dentists,” Carroll said, according to the article. “But if Rutgers has $20 million to spend on a football coach, we don’t have to give them any more.”
Assemblywoman Amy Handlin said that while she thinks Rutgers is a great program, they have to be skeptical about more requests for money, according to the article.
“We all ought to be somewhat skeptical about requests for more and more and more money from a University that seems to be able to find millions of dollars to do everything but academics and these kinds of wonderful community services,” Handlin said.
When it comes to the funds allocated for Schiano’s contract, Todd Wolfson, president of the American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT), weighed in.
While the faculty would love to have a great football team, the University should be spending money on teaching and research first, Wolfson said.
“(Schiano) was paid less by an NFL football team than he is being paid by Rutgers, which is being funded by New Jersey taxpayers,” Wolfson said. “We, right now, have 1,200 medical faculty working without a contract. We have 500 postdocs working without a contract, and those postdocs are making a median salary average of $42,500, which I think probably doesn’t account for the cost of many of the perks Schiano got.”
Many students at Rutgers are food insecure and work 2 to 3 jobs, which is another thing the University could be putting money toward, he said.
“(It) could stop raising tuition for undergraduates every year,” Wolfson said. “(It) could settle contracts with (its) medical faculty and postdocs. There’s a lot of things the University could do with the money and still field a potentially competitive team. I think amounts more than $12 million a year from students goes to athletics.”
It should also take into account the $2 million per year Rutgers is still paying former head coach Chris Ash, Wolfson said. With Schiano’s $4 million per year, the University is paying approximately $6 million a year for head coaches.
Wolfson also spoke about the benefits Schiano’s family is receiving.
“Personally, we think the way (Rutgers is) treating his family is a good thing. But, if we think about that at the same time — the medical faculty and postdocs — they don’t even get any support for their maternity or paternity leave,” Wolfson said. “So, while (the University is) valuing the needs of Schiano’s family, (it is) not valuing the needs of a mother or father to actually take time off to take care of their newborns.”
Wolfson also said money should be allocated to Rutgers—Camden, which is currently in debt, making it difficult for academic programs to expand.
“Rutgers—Camden has been put into receivership, meaning (it) cannot hire new faculty or hire new staff, without going through central administration on (its) hands and knees begging for these hires (due to) a $20 million debt Rutgers—Camden has,” he said.
In the end, the priorities of the University “are out of whack,” Wolfson said.
“But, as I think many have said, and we have said already, I think the University should first and foremost be spending money on its core mission, which is teaching and research,” he said.
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