UD just knew there’d be a detective named Killingsworth.

It’s too good a last name for a murder mystery writer to pass up, and one Kennedy Killingsworth stars in a series by Betsy Brannon Green.

Meanwhile UD‘s buddy Mark Killingsworth, an entirely actual econ professor at Rutgers, continues his real world, who-did-in-Rutgers-University, investigation in a series of opinion pieces in the NJ Star-Ledger.

Here, though, the mystery merely lies in the numbers — as in, how does Rutgers lie about the athletics deficits that are doing it in? — not in the reason the numbers have added up over the years to a current $47.4 million.

You can of course list particular things that have happened at the school. A commenter on Mark’s piece nicely describes one part of the deal in this way:

[It’s the old] wash/rinse/repeat cycle. Hire expensive coaches. Give them extensions which are not warranted. Coaches under perform, teams are terrible, fire/buy them out and then repeat.

Or, in Mark’s words:

[A]thletics deficit spending makes bigger deficits and lots of embarrassments, including personnel decisions that led to four athletics directors in nine years, three football coaches in seven years and over $9 million in severance pay.

But as to the larger mystery: No mystery at all. Put a bunch of unsupervised guys together, give them funny money, and WHEEEEEEE…

Mark Killingsworth, an econ professor at Rutgers…

… relentlessly unmasks that university’s sports lies (background here). Like Reed Olsen at Missouri State University, Killingsworth is part of a special breed of university professor: A smart economist able to detect all of the bs universities put out about how lucrative big-time sports on campus are (or will be; it’s almost always got to be will be). So for instance, in a recent opinion piece, Killingsworth writes:

Its report to the NCAA shows that the subsidy to [Rutgers] athletics is $28 million: $18.5 million from discretionary university funds and another $9.5 million from student fees. None of these funds are earmarked for athletics — the university is free to spend those dollars on anything it wants, or even hand them back to students and their families as tuition reductions. All told, the subsidy amounts to almost $1,000 for each undergraduate. The student fees alone work out to almost $330 per undergraduate.

Nevertheless, Rutgers officials from [President] Barchi on down repeatedly refer only to the $18.5 million in discretionary funds as a subsidy. They never mention student fees. Sayonara! $9.5 million in subsidies conveniently disappear.

Killingsworth barely touches on the reputational costs to Rutgers of its absolutely endless athletics scandal. He doesn’t need to.

Suppose they gave a university bankruptcy…

… and nobody came.

Poor Rutgers.

If you can read through this without laughing out loud…

… I mean… If you’re having trouble knowing where to laugh (there are many laugh-locations), UD will insert parenthetical LOLs to help you.



Oh right. I need to remind you that … well, let UD‘s pal Mark Killingsworth remind you. Read this.

Ok? Now are you ready? Here goes.


It’s been another difficult week being a Rutgers football fan. Keith Sargeant of NJ Advance Media reported on Wednesday that starting safety K.J. Gray and reserve linebacker Brendan DeVera had been dismissed from the program. On Thursday night, Sargeant reported as many as eight players were currently under investigation for credit card fraud [LOL] by the Rutgers police department. Sargeant’s colleague, James Kratch, also reported that Gray was recently charged for an incident in June that included driving with an open container and possession of marijuana. Training camp is less than three weeks away from beginning and the Rutgers football team already has their backs against the wall this season. For fans, this Friday the 13th certainly feels like another horror film sequel.

This new scandal will test the patience of even the most ardent Rutgers football supporters. It’s only been three years [LOL] since multiple arrests and embarrassments took place, resulting in the end of the Kyle Flood era. On the face of it, this situation appears different in the sense that during the Flood scandals, players were literally fighting people in the streets multiple times, robbing people’s homes and the head coach himself was pressuring a professor to change the grade of a player. [LOL] I’m not absolving current head coach Chris Ash of responsibility for this current mess, but the allegations appear to be one related situation, versus a pattern of misconduct. Ultimately, they are his players and while you could debate how realistic it is for the coaches to be aware of cyber crimes potentially committed by players, his culture [LOL] has been jeopardized if these allegations ring true.

… The old saying for Boston Red Sox fans before their success of the 2000’s was “they killed my grandfather, my father, and now they are coming for me.” Professional and college sports are different for many reasons, but that sentiment may ring a little too true for Rutgers fans after the past decade of repeated scandals, on top of a lot of losing on the field and court. [At least the program has an almost fifty million dollar deficit.]

… I want Rutgers to win more than anyone, but I want to be proud watching the players on the field, not feel dirty about rooting for criminals. [My, aren’t we dainty. Be a man and root for criminals like everyone else.]

… Big Ten fan bases will be foaming at the mouth to crucify the school that has forever stained their beloved, holier than holy conference. [LOL? Dunno. Just a very weird sentence.]

A Tale of Two Jockshops

Too much of nothing, or too much of less than nothing: However you slice it, intellectual life at your basic jockshop is, er, a bit off.

Courtesy of Charlie, a reader, there’s this local yokel update on Oklahoma University, long ruled by Gotta Love Em! David Boren, and absolutely drowning in sports revenue..

But now they’ve got a new president, and he seems to have decided that the next step is to move toward creating an actual university on the campus, where “OU is bleeding money while Sooner athletics swims in it.”

Bleeding how much, you ask? After all, the more successful the front porch of the American university, the more successful the university, and it doesn’t come more successful than OU’s athletic programs, so OU must be…

One billion dollars in debt.


The yokel struggles with this. How can it be? His final line says it all:

We will wait and see what [this spectacular disparity] means, but it would seem to mean something.

I think we can do better than that. I think we can specify quite precisely what it means. It means OU is a football team with some sort of shabby deadbeat school attached to it somewhere. It means that, as a witty long-ago OU president once said of his school, “We want to build a university our football team can be proud of.”

But we don’t really want to, or at least David Boren didn’t want to. He wanted to soak his students for higher and higher tuition, and deny raises to his faculty, while paying top dollar – over the top – to coaches and their minions. Even as OU’s new president began making noises about how this wasn’t a great way to run a university, OU announced they’d just given the football coach a $1.7 million raise.

The only word for it is surrealistic: “[A]s the academic side of the institution finds itself in dire straits, Sooner sports sits pretty.” Academically, although OU designates itself a university, there’s no there there. The whole place is football. And if you think you can reverse that winning, nothing-but-football record, you’re nuts. The new president is about to discover what the word “culture” — make that cult – means.


And then there’s also massively indebted Rutgers – though here the debt in question is athletics itself. Rutgers economics professor Mark Killingsworth, after immense efforts to uncover the actual numbers from a most unforthcoming university, concludes that

the real deficit for 2016-17 … comes to a total of $35.4 million plus $11.9 million, or $47.3 million — the largest deficit in the history of Rutgers athletics. Despite [President Robert] Barchi’s oft-expressed pious hopes for athletics self-sufficiency, the program has now blown through a grand total of $193.1 million in deficit spending since he arrived in New Brunswick.

Killingsworth concludes by stating the obvious – obvious to everyone but the president and trustees of Rutgers:

[A]thletics deficits take money that could have been spent on academics, and shamelessly raise fees and costs for students.


Rich jockshop; poor jockshop. Don’t make no never mind.

The Curse of the Econ Department

UD has long said that in a few years schools like Rutgers – run by jokesters and jocksters – will begin phasing out their economics departments, or at the very least introducing litmus tests for new hires.

Econ professors are among the very few on any campus who can actually run the numbers on athletics programs. The loudest among these professors often have access to the local newspaper’s opinion columns, and they can stir up outrage against massive sports deficits. The cleanest thing to do will be to shut them, and their departments, down. You could, short of that, hire only economists who have demonstrated that no amount of sports-related deficit is too great to outweigh their adoration of athletics.

Meanwhile, Rutgers has the curse of Mark Killingsworth, an econ prof who relentlessly, in opinion piece after opinion piece, chronicles what he describes as the brainlessness and insanity of that school’s president and board of trustees as they drive the place into incredible debt.

[The] real [athletics] deficit for 2016-17 can now stand up and be counted: it comes to a total of $35.4 million plus $11.9 million, or $47.3 million — the largest deficit in the history of Rutgers athletics. Despite [President Robert] Barchi’s oft-expressed pious hopes for athletics self-sufficiency, the program has now blown through a grand total of $193.1 million in deficit spending since he arrived in New Brunswick.

If you think this is bad … there’s worse. From the university’s response to another OPRA request, I learned that Rutgers currently has an outstanding total of $33.13 million in “internal debt” — the last of which won’t be paid off until 2030.

… The members of Rutgers’ Board of Governors have shown that, collectively, they are either too ignorant or too timid to do anything to restore even the most modest degree of fiscal sanity to Rutgers athletics: for them, anything goes. Apparently, they don’t understand, or don’t care, that athletics deficits take money that could have been spent on academics, and shamelessly raise fees and costs for students.

The only way to shut this guy up is to dump his entire department – call it a fiscal emergency, brought on by a temporarily high athletics deficit.

Coming to America’s Big-Time Sports Universities: Litmus Tests for Economics Professors

The latest econ professor to squawk about his or her university’s sports program – Colorado State’s Steven Shulman – reminds UD to mention that she thinks we’ll see, in a few years, at some schools, litmus tests for new hires in this field.

Are you an avid fan of football and basketball? Will you sign a pledge attesting to your intention to attend home games into perpetuity, your willingness to cancel class when a match-up will take place within 72 hours of a scheduled course session, your commitment to give C or higher grades to revenue athletes in your classes, and – most important – your promise never to subject the athletic program to economic analysis or talk to news outlets about your economic analysis of the program?

Econ professors are a seriously weak link in the American jock school chain. This blog has covered tons of economists who, with their specialized knowledge, subject their athletics departments to withering critique and then tell everyone about it. Here are some instances of professors, who, like Shulman (‘“Of course it sucks resources out of the academic side of the university,” Shulman said. “And it’s dishonest to deny that it does that… We are a land-grant university, and our mission is grounded in service to the citizens of Colorado. And to me what that means is keeping tuition low and affordable.”’), go after the game boys.

Remember Reed Olsen? Back in 2010 he told everyone at Missouri State University that their expensive new JQH stadium would not only not be profitable (the university insisted it would be profitable) but would hemorrhage money, and he caught hell for it. But of course he was right. As he explained in an email to UD at the time:

Let’s say that we are looking at a $2M ongoing loss in the arena. This is slightly more than 1% of the operating budget of the university. The university, because of a new state law, cannot raise in-state tuition more than [the] increase in the CPI. And for the last 2 years all universities in the state have agreed to not raise tuition at all in return for mostly stable state funding. So that means that most of this $2M must come out of cuts from other parts of the budget or the small increases in student fees from increased out of state tuition or other types of student fees. Students are assessed a fee for [the arena] which supposedly pays for free student seats at BB games. However, that revenue is included in the accounting, still leaving $2M left to pay. Faculty concern is that it comes out of our pocket.

If you’re Missouri State you definitely do not want people like Reed Olsen on your campus – people with the capacity to reason about the finances of your sports program. A simple interview questionnaire teasing out Olsen’s prejudice against sports programs would have saved MSU a lot of grief.

Then there’s Mark Killingsworth at Rutgers, a person just as persistent and tough-skinned as Olsen. Here’s a sample Killingsworth editorial. Excerpt:

The program is a financial disgrace. Since 2003-04, it has racked up $287 million in deficits. The university’s financial plan for sports calls for $183 million in additional deficits through 2022 — despite new revenue from the Big Ten Conference.

These deficits have been funded with subsidies from student fees (students have no say about that, of course) and university general funds. As even the university president concedes, athletics is “siphoning dollars from the academic mission.”

Then there’s Dick Barrett, once a University of Montana econ professor and now a state senator. He routinely offends UM regents by pointing out that their accounts of the athletic budget are full of shit.

Barrett called “bogus” the regents’ argument that millions of dollars in tuition waivers for athletes shouldn’t be counted as subsidies because no cash changes hands.

Tuition waivers for athletics totaled $8 million last year for all campuses, including $2.8 million at MSU, according to Frieda Houser, University System director of accounting and budget.

The university could have decided to “sacrifice revenue” in other ways, Barrett said. “It could decide not to charge other students as high a tuition.

“Students are subsidizing athletics, not just in their (athletics) fee, but they have to pay higher tuition so athletes can pay lower tuition,” he said.

There’s UD‘s pal Bill Harbaugh, econ, University of Oregon, exploding the myth of the program’s self-sufficiency. Vanderbilt econ professor John Siegfried is amusing on the subject of his and other schools’ prisoner’s dilemma. There’s Marilyn Flowers, chair of economics at truly sports-fucked Ball State:

… Ball State has more than $14 million budgeted for its athletics programs. Approximately 80 percent of the budget is paid for from student fees – almost $9 million – and institutional support – almost $2.5 million.

“When it costs so much for kids to go to school, and you charge them $800 a year and most of them don’t go to any games, that I think is really unfortunate,” Flowers said.

Even Auburn hears occasional squawks from its econ department. The chair of economics there warns that sports is so autonomously powerful on campus that it represents “a second university.”

As jock schools escalate their policy of robbing students and taxpayers to give multimillionaire coaches raises and pay back crushing stadium debt, the last thing they need is financially literate people exposing their … complex… bookkeeping. The entry interview is their only opportunity to head these people off at the pass.

Rutgers University is the Functional Equivalent of Donald Trump

Run by mad substitute football coach Norries Wilson [“Wilson … proceeded to go around the [press conference] room calling on individual reporters one at a time like a school teacher. The first person he called on worked for Penn State athletics and was simply at the press conference to record quotes, so he didn’t have a question. Later, [Norries] called on a photographer who was only filming, so she also didn’t have a question…. [A] reporter referred to the Rutgers head coach as ‘Flood.’ Wilson interrupted the question and demanded the reporter call him ‘Coach Flood.'”], Rutgers University now does little more than express for the nation the institution-wide surreality of big-time university sports (“The New Brunswick jail can probably field a terrific football team.”), exactly the way Donald Trump expresses for us the surreality of presidential campaigns.

Rutgers’ putative president wants nothing to do with an athletics program that has anyway, like so many such programs, almost fully spun off from whatever leftovers in New Brunswick people are calling a “university” (see details on the total divorce between universities and their big sports programs here), and the fall of the Rutgers second-in-command (really first, but let’s go with the fiction that presidents run sports factories) COACH Flood, leaves us with the Alexander Haig-like (“I’m in control here.”) figure of third-in-command Norries. All sportsdom this morning talks of his wacko press conference, and there’s no one left at Rutgers to send in the vaudeville hook.


One difference between Trump and Rutgers: Trump is really rich…

Oh but Rutgers is well on its way, given all those big-time football bucks…

The program is a financial disgrace. Since 2003-04, it has racked up $287 million in deficits. The university’s financial plan for sports calls for $183 million in additional deficits through 2022 — despite new revenue from the Big Ten Conference.

These deficits have been funded with subsidies from student fees (students have no say about that, of course) and university general funds.

When UD wrote “The Faculty Bench,” back in 2006…

… she pointed out that one of many reasons professors don’t fuck with their universities’ often fucked up athletics programs has to do with simple abuse. Criticize campus sports and every yahoo from the chair of the board of trustees to the local wino who doesn’t go to games but joins fellow drunks to trash the town during tailgates is going to come after you. You’re going to be called names six ways to Sunday.

Few people want to spend their lives dealing with dicks. So few people squawk about sports.

But over the years this blog has accumulated a pantheon of professors, a handful of heroes, who have been willing to stand up to the abuse. (Some of them are here, here, here, here, and here.)

Mark Killingsworth, an econ professor at Rutgers, is one of these. As that absurd school sports itself to death, Killingsworth hammers away at the obvious point that it ain’t got no moolah. “I have to assume that so far the plan [to expand athletics] is to keep [the] status quo, to keep taking money out of academics,” says he, and ain’t it the truth. But no one else in the state of New Jersey (with the exception of Killingsworth’s father-god, William Dowling) cares, and indeed if you go by most of the comments on all the articles about Killingsworth in the local press it’s pretty clear that many people in New Jersey think poorly of Killingsworth.

Moral: Think twice before getting between a boy and his concussion.



Rutgers is an enormous public institution, with an annual budget of $3.6 billion. It is responsible for educating 65,000 students. Why isn’t that more important that competing in the Big Ten?

“Academics should no longer be treated as a trust fund for the athletics program.”

Econ professor Mark Killingsworth is one of this blog’s heroes. He’s that rare faculty member who takes up arms against his sports-mad school’s arms race. Killingsworth happens to teach at Rutgers, which means he gets to witness both athletic scandals that make his school a national laughingstock and relentless wasting of student and tax dollars on football and basketball. He has now helped lead the Faculty Senate to issue a set of recommendations that you can read here.

Glance at even a few of the recommendations and you’ll see that there’s no way in hell jockshop Rutgers is going to take any of them seriously:

• Rutgers Athletics should design and enforce a five-year plan to eliminate all financial

• No capital investment (expansion or new construction of Athletics facilities)
should be undertaken until the Athletics deficit is eliminated;

• No allocations from student fees should be used to finance Athletics…

Yadda yadda. The list assumes the Rutgers leadership gives a shit about much beyond ball games. The president will thank the professors for their very interesting thoughts and ignore everything on the list.

And that’s why Killingsworth is a hero. He dreams the impossible dream.

A Rutgers Professor Does What Professors at Sports Factories are SUPPOSED to Do.

He writes an opinion piece in the school newspaper protesting the destruction of the university by athletics.

You’d think newspapers at Auburn and Clemson and Georgia and Montana and all of the other American universities degraded by big-time sports would feature similar professors – committed, responsible people capable of tracking and analyzing the deterioration and writing about it. Hell, many of these people have tenure, a level of job security unimaginable to most people. But – as UD discussed in what seems to have become her most famous column – for a variety of reasons, they don’t say anything.

Rutgers is an exception. William C. Dowling – a Rutgers English professor – wrote a 2007 book about how sports has long undone, and continues to undo, Rutgers. And now, with things far, far worse than when Dowling’s book came out, an economics professor there – Mark Killingworth – has described the ongoing (and, old UD will guess, ultimately failed) effort to “clean up” after its athletics mess.

A New York Times article about Dowling was written in 2007, when things looked way cool at Rutgers athletics. The author writes that “the number of undergraduate applications has risen along with Rutgers’s sporting fortunes, as have annual donations to the university.”

Really? Here’s Killingworth, 2012:

[B]ig-time University athletics hasn’t attracted more first-year students with high SAT scores, and hasn’t raised our “yield” (percentage of accepted applicants who actually attend), relative to peer institutions. Our academic rankings are sliding steadily downwards, and for two years running, our enormous athletic subsidies have landed us in the Wall Street Journal’s “football grid of shame.” This isn’t “building the brand” — it’s making us a punchline.

What happened to all them big donations and big smart students?

See, this is something sports factories don’t want to parse for you, but getting more jerks to apply to your school because they want to get pissed and join the fun is not a good trend. The state of Massachusetts has set up the University of Massachusetts Amherst to take those students.


Killingworth touches on the Rutgers board of trustees. He is far too kind, merely asking them to “rethink their priorities.” No. They are the people who killed Rutgers. Like Penn State’s trustees (UD predicts all or most of them will resign in the coming months) they should be booted. Instead of holding the university in their trust and working toward its benefit, they shat on it and created the absolute failure Killingworth describes. Out they go.

Rutgers: The Clemson of the East Coast

“You have money sucked out of academics and huge subsidies going to athletics,” said Mark Killingsworth, an economics professor. “You wonder what is this place. Are we a university or what? …”

… Rutgers does not intend to diminish its ambitions. Last year, the university explored joining the Atlantic Coast Conference, and on Thursday [AD Tim] Pernetti said that the Rutgers program was “priced to move in every way.”

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