Rutgers University Fired The Wrong Guy!

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I really got mad the other day after watching the TV show Morning Joe.

Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough, Mika Brezezinski, Willie Geist and their guests were talking about the firing of Mike Rice, the head basketball coach of Rutgers University, for being abusive to the players.

Apparently, a video tape was shared with Tim Pernetti, the Rutgers athletic director about 5 months earlier, that showed Rice pushing, shoving, grabbing, cursing, throwing balls at the players, and using abusive gay-slurring language.  (Sound like a couple bosses you’ve had?)

While it has been reported that the highly edited tapes represented only 1/2 of one percent of the time Rice had spent coaching the team, nonetheless, they made him look like an angry, out of control, homophobic cave man.   The athletic director did the right thing and immediately ordered an investigation, brought in attorneys to interview the players, and examined the university’s exposure to lawsuits.  In a relatively short period of time, Pernetti suspended the basketball coach for 3 games and fined him $50,000.   Case closed right?  Hardly!

Nearly 6 months later, the video tape was posted on YouTube and caught the eye of ESPN, other media outlets and talk shows like Morning Joe, nearly all that faulted the administration for letting the situation happen, not doing enough to prevent it, or not doing doing enough to rectify it.

Crys to fire the athletic director and president

The hosts and guests on Morning Joe were suggesting the athletic director should be fired and even speculated the president must have known about it and should be held accountable.  Within 2 days the athletic director was fired and now I’m seeing articles calling for the president to resign!

So why did this bug me?                                                       

First of all, in my opinion, the college handled the situation in a transparent way.  The athletic director took the situation seriously, attorneys were brought in, the players were interviewed, and the coach was reprimanded.  It’s easy to second guess situations in hindsight, but I do give credit to the athletic director for facing the issues and reprimanding the coach.  At least he did something!

What bugs me is that this situation has the media, legislatures, and alumni around the world talking.

What bugs me is to see everyone obsessing on an issue that affected only 18 players, yet, in just a few weeks, 5,000+ Rutgers grads will be receiving their diplomas, and another 1,700,000 grads around the country will receive their hard earned diplomas from their deans and presidents and ….

…these grads will be leaving college with an average of $27,000 in debt, while having invested upwards to $100,000 in family and personal savings to get a degree, while at the same time racking up over $5,000 in credit card debt.  Worse, based on a NACE study, it will take the average grad nearly 8 months to find a job, losing out on $24,000 in salary!

And yet, no one at the college is doing anything to change this situation.

Could one argue that the college is taking advantage of students and pushing them off the commencement stage into a world they are totally unprepared for?  Is the college doing anything to help grads in their first professional job searches so they don’t end up being bullied by student loan debt collectors?

Ironically, the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development Center at Rutgers University, issued a report issued two years ago entitled, Unfulfilled Expectations: Recent College Graduates Struggle in a Troubled Economy .  The report asked grads, “How well did your college education prepare you to look for a full time job?”  The result…

  • 24% reported – Not Well at All
  • 24% reported – Not Very Well  (looks repetitive, but that’s how they worded it!)

It also reported that 40% were working in jobs that did not require a college degree.

Career Center professionals don’t think grads are ready for their first professional job searches either. The Career Advisory Board Survey of 600 career professionals showed that:

  • 48.1% thought students did not have the knowledge they needed to find jobs
  • 55.7% felt students resumes were not professional enough to use for their job searches

Can anyone tell me of a college administration that is pulling together a task force, bringing in the attorneys, talking to the career center professionals, to come up with solutions to the situations college graduates are facing today?

So if Joe, Mika, Willie and guests think the athletic director, and possibly the president, should be fired over this situation, who should be fired because a significant number of the 8,000 Rutgers grads of the Class of 2013 fail to get a job after college? Who should be fired because the they are ignoring a generation of graduates who are becoming indentured servants to the organizations that own their student loans?

We are all responsible!

  • First of all, parents are responsible for not raising the importance of this issue to college administrators and demanding they invest more resources in the career center and better prepare their sons or daughters for the college to corporate transition.
  • Students need to take ownership of their careers the minute they get on campus. Career development is a marathon, not a sprint that is completed in the final weeks of college.
  • Alumni should be doing more to provide mentoring and internships and to hire graduates. Every college has enough alumni with businesses that could hire graduates.
  • Faculty should be supporting career center initiatives that require students to spend time evaluating career opportunities and creating their career plans.
  • Instead of focusing on basketball stats, college administrators should be focusing on stats that show more students are getting jobs by graduation day and implementing strategies that will improve those stats!

Hillary Clinton in her book It Takes A Village suggested everyone in the community was responsible for raising youth. In this case, the entire campus community, including parents and alumni, are responsible for helping more grads get jobs by graduation day, and students need to spend time each month at the career center to pick up the skills and knowledge they will need to get jobs.

It’s time we all started obsessing about grads’ needs or someone is going to end up getting fired!

Help the 8,000 Rutgers grads, and the 1,700,000 others by getting involved and supporting this years Career Festival that will bring 24 of the nation’s top career authors to their computers, smartphones and smart pads!


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Don Philabaum
Love to find ways to use technology help more grads and alumni develop successful career strategies.
Don Philabaum
Don Philabaum
Don Philabaum

One thought on “Rutgers University Fired The Wrong Guy!

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