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Sunday / July 14.
  • Mulcahy Says He Was Fired

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    Photo courtesy Star-Ledger

    Photo courtesy Star-Ledger

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Robert E. Mulcahy said he was fired as Rutgers athletic director after refusing a request by university president Richard L. McCormick to resign.

    “When I asked if I had done anything wrong and was told ‘No,’ I felt there was no reason for me to offer my resignation,” Mulcahy said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday. “In effect, he terminated me.”

    Mulcahy said he had no idea that McCormick would ask for his resignation when he was summoned to the president’s office about 1 p.m. Wednesday.

    Mulcahy said he did not try to talk McCormick out of his decision after the president said the university was looking to go in a different direction with its athletic department.

    The firing, which will be effective on Dec. 31, came less than a month after an independent committee appointed to review the university’s athletic program criticized Mulcahy, McCormick and other officials for failing to exercise proper oversight.

    The 72-year-old Mulcahy, who will have to be paid the remaining 1 1/2 years on his contract, has been one of the driving forces behind the Rutgers football team’s rise from one of the nation’s least successful programs to one that has qualified for bowl games in four consecutive seasons.

    “After 10 years at the helm of the department of athletics and helping build the program into a nationally respected and recognized organization, I am disappointed I was not allowed to finish the job,” Mulcahy said. “I have had the privilege to work with an excellent program and some special people. It is an experience I will always cherish.”

    Mulcahy declined to comment on whether he was being made the scapegoat for the failings described by the review committee.

    The committee was appointed following a series of reports in The Star-Ledger of Newark that described undisclosed contract sweeteners for football coach Greg Schiano and the award of a no-bid contract to a sports marketing firm that employed Mulcahy’s son.

    The review committee found no evidence of wrongdoing or actual conflict of interest, but said Mulcahy, McCormick and school’s board of governors failed to properly oversee “an increasingly successful and fiscally complex athletics program.”

    “I am not going to get into that, you can make your own conclusion,” Mulcahy said Thursday. “All I will say is that we have been responsive to the audit committee report and I have worked with the university on all its recommendations. At no point, at no point during my tenure has anyone stated from the university or the board of governors that I have done anything wrong.”

    Mulcahy was worried that a new athletic director would change his vision for Rutgers sports. He wanted the football team to go to a BCS bowl, the women’s basketball team to return to the Final Four and the men’s basketball team to make the NCAA tournament.

    “I am concerned that my visions continue to be upheld, but I have no control over that,” Mulcahy said. “As long as the coaches that are here remain here, they will be able to complete that vision for me.”

    The success of Rutgers athletes in the classroom was a particular point of pride for Mulcahy. In the most recent Academic Progress Rate (APR) report released by the NCAA in May, seven sports were ranked in the top 20 percentile nationally.

    “There have been a lot of tough decisions that I had to make with where we were going and what we would do,” said Mulcahy, who eliminated six sports for financial reasons a couple of years ago. “I have always tried to make them in the best interest of the university and the best interest of the department and the student-athletes. They have always come first.”

    New York Giants center and former Rutgers star Shaun O’Hara said Mulcahy was like a father figure to many student-athletes, always reminding them to get their degrees. He was shocked by the news.

    “I do know Bob, and ever since he came to Rutgers his No. 1 priority was to make Rutgers a football presence and make it a big-time football program where New Jersey kids could stay home and play big-time football, and he has done that,” O’Hara said Thursday.

    Mulcahy said he has received a lot of support in the past 24 hours.

    “I was able to bring some pride to the average Rutgers graduate who wanted this athletic department to be something they could be proud of,” he said. “I feel I have been able to do that and that gives me great satisfaction.”

    **Also, here’s a great column by Steve Politi of The Star-Ledger that pretty much sums it up.

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

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