The Rutgers athletic department was allowed to operate without adequate oversight in its efforts to improve the football program, according to a report by an independent panel studying the department's operations.
The 35-page report, prepared by a nine-person committee, found that Rutgers president Richard L. McCormick and the university's board of governors failed to exercise proper oversight of the athletic department. It concluded that the university was not sufficiently prepared to oversee a push into big-time football and allowed the athletic department to spend without prior restraint.
That spending included four separate multimillion-dollar deals with football coach Greg Schiano, of which none was reviewed or approved by the board of governors.
The report said Rutgers suffered from inadequate internal controls and communications between departments, as well as "an uninformed board on some specific important issues and limited presidential leadership."
The study followed a series of reports by The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., which documented hundreds of thousands of dollars in off-the-books spending, contract sweeteners and side letters for Schiano that were not made public, and a no-bid deal with a sports marketing group that was retained after it put athletic director Robert E. Mulcahy's son on its payroll.
Rutgers is a public institution funded by the state of New Jersey.
Although the report did not find any wrongdoing by Mulcahy, it outlined a series of actions in which Mulcahy aggressively pursued the task of taking Rutgers football to the big time and retaining Schiano, whose name was often rumored for vacant head-coaching positions at higher-profile football programs.
The problem, according to the report, was that McCormick and the board failed to exercise their authority in overseeing Mulcahy after giving him wide latitude to make Rutgers football a winner.
"This was a critical deficiency because as we have witnessed … the athletics director pursued his charge with vigor but also in an increasingly insulated and ultimately counterproductive manner," the report said. "Neither the board nor its committees applied the level of questioning scrutiny to Department of Intercollegiate Athletics matters that it had applied to other departments in the university."
In a statement accompanying the report, McCormick said the university would take additional steps to "manage effectively an increasingly successful and fiscally complex athletics program."
Among those actions, McCormick said, will be additional administrative oversight of the athletics department; requiring full disclosure of compensation in coaches' contracts; and requiring presidential approval of coaches' compensation.
"Any institution that aspires to achieve even greater accomplishments and to realize the highest ideals should periodically take stock of what it has done and ask how it can do better," McCormick said in the statement. "The thorough analyses, candid reporting and thoughtful recommendations generated by the members of the Athletics Review Committee in their nearly four months of work will lead to constructive change at Rutgers."
In a statement, Mulcahy said he will work closely with McCormick and the board to implement its recommendations. He did not respond to calls seeking comment on the report, according to The Star-Ledger.
A separate, ongoing probe by the New Jersey state comptroller is seeking records on the $102 million expansion of Rutgers Stadium and other information, according to the newspaper.