Why no Postdoc Salary Raise? Athletic Department May Hold the Answer

An article in the Sunday, March 12, 2017, edition of the New York Times detailed the heavy financial toll Rutgers athletics has taken on the university.

According to Mike Powell’s article, the athletic department has boasted an annual deficit of at least $20 million since 2006, with the total reaching $28.6 million in 2016. As economics professor Mike Killingsworth and anthropology professor (and AAUP-AFT president) David Hughes both note, pouring money into athletics has come at the expense of supporting other aspects of university life, such as academics.

To quote from the article, “Rutgers also diverted $11 million in student fees and $17.1 million from its general fund to cover the athletic shortfall. The average undergraduate now pays more than $300 in activities fees exclusively for the university’s N.C.A.A. teams.”

Among these costs is severance pay to coaches the university fired after reports of their physical and verbal abuse toward players. In another case of athletic misbehavior, football coach Kyle Flood attempted to pressure a faculty member into awarding one of his players a passing grade.

While it is not possible to draw a direct link between the athletic expenditures and the lack of postdoc raise (although The Daily Targum‘s front-page layout of Feb. 22, 2017, may suggest otherwise), the university’s willingness to throw money at athletics while refusing to pay postdocs for work that helps ensure Rutgers’s continued reputation as a world-class research institution speaks volumes about the administration’s priorities. Is this what the corporatization of academia looks like?

Sign the petition to raise postdoc salaries here.


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