Another New Jersey superior court judge has ruled in favor of the Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT) after a lawsuit forcing the University to turn over financial documents for Rutgers Athletics, according to a press release from the AAUP-AFT.
In the previous October ruling, a different judge found that the University had violated the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) by denying the AAUP-AFT’s requests for documents regarding loans or expenditures for Rutgers Athletics, The Daily Targum previously reported.
Rebecca Givan, president of the AAUP-AFT, said this ruling gave the union access to most of the documents requested, including information that Rutgers treated a $38 million loan from 2017 as revenue instead of a liability in the assumption it would be repaid through its future revenues as a Big Ten member.
But documents were not provided for explaining a $76.1 million increase in “internal debt” to total $140.3 million as of January 2021, according to the release.
“This month's ruling isn't so much a decision on a separate lawsuit as a decision on a subsequent motion to clarify why we didn't get those documents,” Givan said. “So now we have a second judge agreeing with us that Rutgers is a public institution that has to operate by the rules and laws governing financial transparency.”
University spokesperson Dory Devlin said Rutgers will provide additional documents without appealing the order.
Givan said the hiring of Greg Schiano was intended to bring many more contributions for funding Rutgers Athletics, but contributions have fallen instead. She said they were at $4.5 million for the 2019-2020 fiscal year before dropping to $3.78 million for 2020-2021 and are expected to drop further to $3.51 million in the 2021-2022 school year.
Rutgers Athletics has used an annual subsidy from mainly mandatory student fees and transferred academic program funds to cover a $20 million to $40 million budget deficit over the past decade, according to the release. The budget gap was estimated to grow to $57.2 million for the previous school year, according to the University’s budget summary.
“Everyone in the Rutgers community—students, their parents, faculty, staff—is paying a steep price for athletics, but no one's been given a chance to consider whether the price is worth paying,” Givan said. “We think it's time the administration came clean about the financial situation of Rutgers Athletics and have an honest discussion about priorities at our university.”