Investigation Reveals Need for Change

An independent review of the Mike Rice scandal by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP revealed major communication flaws and need for changes at Rutgers upon its completion. The Skadden Report was published Monday afternoon and is available to the public.

An independent and illuminating 20-page report by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP regarding the Mike Rice scandal concludes by stating Rutgers is a "vitally important public institution and is rightfully a source of pride for New Jersey."

But after the revealing report detailed failures within many portions of the university, Rutgers has a long way to go before it can truly reclaim its place and the changes have to come from everywhere.

Above all else, the Skadden report showed that blame for the Mike Rice scandal falls on multiple parties at Rutgers and does not belong to any one person (except of course Rice himself).

Anyone that thinks this was simply an athletics problem better think again.

President Robert Barchi deserves some of the blame, especially after the release of today's report, but is not solely at fault. The same can be said about former athletic director Tim Pernetti, the Board of Governors, the athletic department, then-interim general council John Wolf, John Lacey's investigation team and a dozen others.

The handling of the situation highlighted failures in every department.

In 2008, the Athletics Review Committee similarly investigated inside Rutgers and concluded that, "the University operated with inadequate internal controls, insufficient inter-departmental and hierarchical communications, an uninformed Board on some specific important issues, and limited presidential leadership." Five years, and a few demerits later, this remains the issue.

The mistakes and concerns go on for 15 pages of an in-depth report, but the primary issue comes in the way the academics and athletics work together. Too many times during the events of the Rice scandal, academics and athletics did not properly communicate or involve the other in decision-making.

Barchi never involved himself enough in Pernetti's decision-making and did everything he could to distance himself from a situation where he needed to take charge. Had all of the legal minds involved communicated effectively and had Rutgers gotten more out of human resources, things could have ended differently.

The true purpose of the Skadden investigation, however, should be to fix a problem, not to simply assign blame. Some solutions are more obvious than others but Rutgers and Barchi must be quick to install changes before anything else happens, specifically with a new athletic director that has already come under fire.

Rutgers 11 months from Big Ten membership and needs to be a more organized and united institution.

As detailed in the Skadden report, Rutgers failed to fully embrace suggestions made by the ARC in 2008 and that mistake cannot be made again.

Barchi says this will not be the case in a statement made Monday morning.

"I'm pleased that this important review is now complete," Barchi said. "The Skadden firm conducted a thorough analysis, and its detailed recommendations will help us reassess our administrative structures and policies. I look forward to studying the report and we will take the appropriate steps to improve our internal procedures."

There are hundreds of small changes that should be made for Rutgers to properly move forward but the primary revelation of the Skadden report is that communication between athletics and university decision-makers must improve at all levels. Rutgers has to unite in the face of trouble and get ready for big changes in a new conference – changes that benefit academics and athletics.

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