I'm not sure if the Rutgers tuition bill is itemized, but if it is, students might see an additional charge next year.
Next to tuition and room and board would be a charge on each of the 25,000 undergraduates bills: $22 — Kevin Bannon Retirement Fund
Yes, a "retirement" fund for Kevin Bannon, the head basketball coach for the Scarlet Knights who was fired last week for only posting a 59-60 record over his tenure in New Brunswick.
So, rather than keeping the unsuccessful coach with the program, Rutgers bought out Bannon's contract for something in the neighborhood of $600,000.
But what makes the story even more outrageous is the fact that it was only last summer when Athletic Director Bob Mulcahy gave Bannon — the embattled coach — a three-year contract extension.
This is not the first time students are paying for the mistakes of a misguided AD who failed to look at the bottom line when dealing with big-time athletics.
Two years ago, Minnesota basketball coach Clem Haskins was embroiled in a scandal that would eventually place the program under harsh NCAA sanctions. A former tutor made allegations that she was not only helping the Gopher ballplayers, but was also writing their papers and doing their assignments. The scandal caused the dismissal of coach Haskins.
The coach, nearly a saint in the eyes of Minnesota fans, claimed that he had no knowledge of the situation, but the testimony of the tutors and players was enough to sink his career.
Before you feel too bad for the man who dragged a once-proud Rutgers program into the dirt, realize that while Bannon's dismissal essentially led to a $22 charge on each of Rutgers' 25,000 students' tuition bills, Haskins firing cost Minnesota $1.5 million in compensation.
I think I've found a new job.
I want to be a fired coach. All the money, none of the actual work.
The blame for these outrageous contracts does not fall with the coaches, however. It's the fault of the athletic departments. The fact that Bannon — a coach who was already in hot water at the beginning of the season — was given a three-year extension should make sense to no one and anger those who are footing the bill.
In Haskins' situation, an athletic director who wanted the best coach money could buy allowed a clause in the coach's contract that forced the University to buy out his contract regardless of the reasons for his dismissal.
This just doesn't make sense. No other university employee would get a clause that forces the university to pay his salary even if he assisted with plagiarism. Why should the basketball coach?
Bannon already had a questionable past with the Scarlet Knights. Many people simply knew him for an incident in which two players and the team manager were forced to run sprints naked in the gym after losing a free-throw contest. One of those players — Josh Sankes — was back in the spotlight recently as he carried his Holy Cross team to the NCAA Tournament after having transferred. The renewed publicity was the beginning of the end. These actions should have been punished and admonished, not rewarded with a new contract.
Luckily, some of the people who are suffering from the financial mismanagement are beginning to speak up. Rutgers 1000 is a group of students, faculty and alumni that disagrees with Rutgers decision to be a Division I athletic program.
"The amount that they're paying Bannon on the buyout to not coach, would cover 109 full tuition scholarships for New Jersey students," English professor William Dowling, head of Rutgers 1000's faculty council, told The Daily Targum, Rutgers' student newspaper.
While the misplacing of priorities does not seem to be a problem at Princeton — a program that focuses on the athletic experience and does not fire coaches simply over wins and losses — we must not fall into the trap of throwing money at any problems that we have.
Greed. Greed for a successful program; the most powerful coaches; the highest profile players.
Sometimes greed comes back to bite you. But it's not the AD who will be paying the bill. It'll be a little charge at the bottom of your tuition bill: $22 — Kevin Bannon Retirement Fund
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