By Keith Sargeant, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
In what a top-ranking Rutgers official called “an essential component of today’s recruiting resources,” the university’s athletics program spent $211,000 on nine private jets in an effort to boost its’ recruiting efforts in football and men’s basketball two years ago, an NJ Advance Media analysis revealed.
The expenditures are a key reason why the recruiting budget increased 33.5 percent to a record $1.27 million in the 2016-17 school year — the first season that Rutgers football coach Chris Ash, men’s basketball coach Steve Pikiell and Athletics Director Pat Hobbs were in their respective positions.
While Rutgers officials say the private-jet expenditures are privately funded, the athletics department operates at one of the largest deficits among Division I schools in the country.
David Hughes, vice president of the Rutgers AAUP-AFT faculty union, is a vocal critic of Rutgers athletics spending.
Hughes, who noted that most of the Rutgers academics workforce has been working without a contract since July 1, said “fiscal irresponsibility” in athletics “has reached grotesque levels.”
“At public schools, coach-administrators have no business traveling like tycoons,” Hughes said in a statement to NJ Advance Media. “They have no business hijacking the Rutgers Foundation and students’ savings to bail out a bankrupt side show. Enough is enough! This administration needs to fully support teaching, research, and the faculty and staff who carry out the State University’s core mission.”