From spending $12,400 on a "power nap" machine to a $24,000 remodel of coaches' offices, the budget for Rutgers Athletics continues to come under scrutiny.

Rutgers spent $118 million on athletics last year, a staggering $73 million more than the programs brought in.

This was at the same time University President Jonathan Holloway said the school was facing "the most significant and substantial shortfall in the university's history."

There has always been a sense that, eventually, the lavish spending on athletics would produce a return on the investment.

Holloway now says that is not going to happen.

Former President Robert Barchi vowed the athletics department would eventually support itself and, perhaps, earn a profit that could be used to supplement academic spending.


In a speech before the Rutgers faculty senate, Holloway was blunt.

"For too long the entire Rutgers community has been laboring under the illusion that athletics will generate enough revenue to pay for itself and, then, in time turn a profit," Holloway said.

He went on to say "it is highly unlikely that it will."

Last year, Rutgers ran a deficit of $97 million. 6,000 workers were furloughed and senior administrators took voluntarily pay cuts, but Holloway made the argument in his speech that cutting spending on athletics would not have made a difference.

Holloway claimed athletic spending was 2% of the university operating budget, and "dissolving athletics would not solve our budget challenges."

Rutgers teams continue to enjoy some measure of success, but without the strong recruiting classes of fellow Big Ten members like Michigan, Ohio and Penn State, Rutgers could be destined as perennial bottom-feeders of the conference.

It's something Holloway seemed to allude to when he first became university president in 2020. While he expressed desire for more competitive teams, he admitted to that schools like Ohio State are "functioning in a different orbit" than Rutgers.

Still, Holloway believes the expenses are worth it, saying athletics help "tell a compelling story about this institution."

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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