NBA Owners the Best at Handing Out the Worst Contracts

No league in professional sports can out-superlative the NBA, especially when it comes to worst all-time contracts.

The NBA justifiably prides itself on having the biggest, fastest, strongest, most athletic players in team sports. But in many cases, it comes at a terrible price.

Paying Juwan Howard $155 million, Zydrunas Ilgauskas $124 million and Brian Grant $110 million over the course of their undistinguished careers should be a punishable offense, but ticket buyers were the only ones paying any real penalty.

It would seem NBA owners put more thought into signing a restaurant receipt than they do long-term contracts that all include the one word every player loves: Guaranteed. If a player is unmotivated after the first year of his seven-year, $120 million contract, there’s little a team can do except continue to pay. Those last six years are guaranteed.

Owners are so bad at identifying legitimate talent that in the latest collective bargaining agreement, they inserted a “Get Out Of Jail” card in an attempt to cover up their most appalling acts of stupidity.

This “amnesty clause” allows teams to waive one player and not have his salary count against the team’s salary cap. Owners still must pay the player his guaranteed money, proving that stupidity does have a price.

$60 Million Not To Play

A few notable examples of  amnesty intervention:

  • Gilbert Arenas receiving $60 million not to play for the Orlando Magic for the final three years of his contract.
  • Baron Davis got $27 million to walk away from the Cleveland Cavaliers.
  • Travis Outlaw pulled in $28 million from Brooklyn.
  • Andray Blatche collected $23 million from the Washington Wizards to go away.

Yet none of these four make the All-NBA Worst Contract First Team. In fact, only Arenas was close, because he is the most recent Poster Boy of “What were you thinking when you signed him?”

To make our starting five for worst contracts, you had to meet two conditions:

  • Be paid more than $100 million in your career
  • Never be on a team that reached the NBA Finals

The first condition was met by scores of candidates. Most were guys entering the league in the 1990s, when teams needed two or three amnesty clauses a season to cover up atrocious signing.

Names like Vince Carter (career earnings of $162 million), Carlos Boozer ($146 million), Grant Hill ($145 million), Michael Finley ($138 million), Zach Randolph ($138 million), Nene Hilario ($122 million), Brian Grant ($110 million), Mike Bibby ($107 million), Jalen Rose ($102 million) and Theo Ratliff ($102 million) made more than enough to qualify. However, they weren’t judged awful enough, though the case for Grant could be re-opened any minute.

Not surprisingly, all of those candidates (and more) met the second condition. If a player was getting paid a lot of money and wasn’t terrible, his team probably was good enough to make the NBA Finals.

Some deserving underachievers like Juwan Howard ($155 million in career earnings, two appearances in NBA Finals),  Rashard Lewis ($152 million in career earnings, one appearance in NBA Finals) and Allan Houston ($117 million, one Finals appearance) should praise their former teammates for carrying them to a higher level.

All-Time Worst NBA Contracts Are …

With all those conditions behind us, let us introduce the Not-So-Fabulous, Five-Worst NBA Contracts:

Point guard: Four NBA teams paid Stephon Marbury $151 million to ruin their franchises, and he obliged. The toxic Marbury was one-and-done on his first four trips to the playoffs, and though he made a second-round appearance with the Celtics in 2009, he helped Boston lose a 3-2 series advantage for the first time in Celtic history. History-making incompetence? He should captain the worst-contract team.

Shooting guard: Someone suggested Tracy McGrady change the “c” in his last name to an “e” so it accurately reflected what mattered in his life. MeGrady led the league in scoring twice, was a first-team All NBA selection twice and an All-Star seven times. McGrady also made the playoffs eight times with four teams and never won a first-round series. For that, he was paid $163 million. Enough said.

Small forward: The best description of Antawn Jamison’s career is that he has been quietly worthless. He earned $142 million despite the fact his teams only made the playoffs six times in 15 years. He did make two All-Star Game appearances, but one career highlight for ‘Twan was getting traded for his best friend (Vince Carter) five minutes after he was drafted. It has been that kind of career of Jamison, now with the Lakers.

Power forward: Brian Grant deserves this spot, but Elton Brand, one of the nicest athletes in professional sports, gets it. Brand was more overpaid for doing less than Grant. Brand, the first pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, made only two all-star teams and three playoff appearances in 14 seasons. His team reached the second round of the playoffs twice, hardly enough to justify $161 million in compensation.

Center: Jermaine O’Neal had potential. That’s why Portland drafted him out of high school. It’s why Indiana gave him a $126 million contract. It’s why Toronto and Miami traded for him, and Boston and Phoenix signed him as a free agent. Problem was, no one could get enough potential out of him to make a significant difference. Somehow, all those teams saw fit to pay him $168 million for next to nothing.

Collectively, this group played 75 years among them and reached only one conference final, was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs 66 percent of the time (23 of 35) and got paid an average of $157 million each.

That’s why all professional athletes know the NBA is the best.

This is Part 2 of a four-part series on the worst contracts in professional sports. Read Part 1 on the MLB.

Money Flows to MLB, but There is Debt in Baseball

There’s no debt in baseball.

The season just started and no matter where you look, the sport is gushing money like a BP oil well. Consider these figures:

$14.2 billion: Amount of baseball’s latest TV contract. If you’re doing the revenue sharing, that’s $52 million per team, per year for the next eight years.

100 percent: The increase ESPN, Fox and Turner Networks paid to be part of that eight-year deal. That’s twice as much as they paid for the previous contract. Who wouldn’t pay double to watch something as slow, drawn-out and sleep-inducing as baseball?

$40 million: Estimated revenue in 2001, the first year for MLBAM, the digital arm of major league baseball, which now includes MLB.com, MLB.TV and At Bat 12, a mobile app.

1,525 percent: The increase in revenue enjoyed by MLBAM, which took in $650 million in 2012. Some analysts estimate its total value at $6 billion to watch and read about baseball. Unbelievable!

Yankees Are Baseball’s Richest

$744 million: Average value of a major league team. The Yankees, naturally, are worth the most at $2.3 billion and yes, I do mean a billion with a “B.”

23 percent: The jump in value for all MLB teams over the past year.  By comparison, the U.S. economy improved an average of 2 percent last year. Clearly the economy is not moving slow enough.

$3.14 billion: Estimated payroll for the 30 major league teams on Opening Day. The Yankees ($229 million) and Dodgers ($216 million) are spending the most.

5.9 percent: This is the increase in average player salary over the past year. The average ballplayer makes $3.6 million. The minimum salary is $480,000. Yes, that how much you can make to stand in the sun and occasionally move if a ball is hit your way.

Let’s pause with the numbers game for a moment. If you want to go back over those figures and gush a little, please do. They left me dumbfounded. Now back to the numbers.

The 2 percent of the population who say trite things like “baseball is a game of numbers” will tell you that the figures above aren’t really what the game is about. Those people worship acronyms like ERA, WHIP, WAR and RAT, which are supposed to be the real measurements of the game, though nobody really knows what they mean.

There is  an acronym for the few people who do. It’s DORK.

If you are a non-DORK, you probably wonder what there is to complain with the game of baseball. The sport is flush. It’s rolling in the one acronym everyone understands — $$$$ — and the forecast for the future is continuing showers of cash.

Are Overpaid Stars Worth It?

Baseball’s top-paid players make obscene amounts of money for doing next-to-nothing. Yes, that’s the definition of virtually every baseball player, but the guys who tens of millions are really doing next-to-nothing for the money. And there are LOTS of them. There are 103 players making more than $10 million a season.  Forty-five of them make more than $15 million and 21 of them make more than $20 million.

In return, you get Yankee slugger Mark Teixeira batting .250 for $23 million. Or Giants’ pitcher Tim Linecum giving up 5.18 runs a game for $22.3 million. Or Yankees center fielder Vernon Wells stealing $24.6 million for hitting 11 home runs in a season.

Those three, and plenty more like them, are proof there is debt in baseball, though you have to go strictly by the Webster’s Dictionary definition — something that is owed or that one is bound to pay to or perform for another — to call these guys actual debtors. They owe fans a lot more than they’re giving and here is a postion-by-position at baseball’s biggest debtors.

Position by Position All-Debt Team

On the mound is New York Mets’ lefty Johan Santana, the easiest choice for this team. He made 21 appearances last year and was paid $24 million, or $1.14 million every time he showed up for work. How can you top that? Santana can! He’s due $25 million this year, but hasn’t thrown a pitch yet and may not throw one all season because of shoulder injury. That would mean $25 million for NOT showing up to work.

It’s probably a good thing Santana can’t pitch because there really are no debtors to catch him. Teams are getting what they pay for from catchers. The only outrageous salary belongs to Joe Mauer of the Twins, who gets $23 million a year to hit .319. Mauer could have more home runs (10) and RBIs (85), but generally speaking, he produces for his team.

First base is another story.  Teixeira would seem to be a lock, until you look at Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard , who does even less for $20 million. Howard played 71 games and batted .219 last season. With bad wheels, he could easily be worse. And next year, he gets $25 million!

Second base is a one-man show. Atlanta’s Dan Uggla hit .220 last year, a point better than Howard, and he only got paid $13 million. The good news is he was consistently bad, playing in 154 games. The bad news, for Braves fans anyway, is that he’s still got two years and $26 million left after this season.

Shortstop was difficult call. The Dodgers’ Hanley Ramirez hit 24 home runs and had 92 RBIs, but he doesn’t cover much ground and his .257 batting average isn’t worth the $15.5 million he gets this year and next.

Third base is easy. Yankee bank-vault Alex Rodriguez is going to win this spot for at least four more years. That’s how long he has left on the outrageous 10-year, $275 million deal he signed in 2008. He made $29 million for playing 122 games last season. He might play half that many this season, but he only get $28 million for it. His power numbers (34 HRs over the past two seasons) have dived since people became aware of his steroid use and he doesn’t cover much ground at third base anymore, but there is good news Yankee fans: He’s only got four years and $86 million left on his deal.

Left field is L.A. Dodger Carl Crawford, who got $19.5 million to play 31 games last season. He had surgery on his elbow last summer, rendering a weak throwing arm all but useless this year when he gets $20 million. Only four years and $80 million left on his deal, after that.

Wells woeful stats make him an untouchable liability in center field.  The good news for Yankees fans is there is only one year left on his contract and it’s only $21 million.

Another Dodger, Andre Eithier, is the only right fielder we could come up with and that’s mostly because he’s going to get $85 million over the next five years for mediocre stats, a .284 batting average with 20 home runs.

So there you have it, nine bad-to-horrible contracts that prove one thing: We’d all be out of debt, if we could only play baseball!

This is Part 1 of a four-part series on the worst contracts in professional sports. Read Part 2 on the NBA.

College Football Makes Imprint on Final Four with Louisville, Syracuse

By Mike Huguenin

Special to Debt.org

The end of a highly competitive and parity-filled college basketball season comes Monday with the NCAA tournament’s championship game. The Final Four in Atlanta is notable not only because just one of the four teams still playing was expected to be there but also because half the teams with a chance at a title are representing conferences they are leaving.

The Big East Conference can stage a members-only title game Monday night because Louisville and Syracuse are on opposite sides of the bracket, but the league cannot use this magical moment to keep itself intact. The Big East –for years the pre-eminent basketball conference in the country – is coming apart because the financial opportunities from football are too alluring to ignore.

Syracuse and Louisville are two of four Big East-affiliated schools that signed up to move to the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Orange joins Pittsburgh and Notre Dame (which will remain an independent in football) in making that jump this summer, while Louisville joins next summer. The moves were driven by football money: The revenue that major football conferences now command from television networks and from the sport’s bowl-based championship system far exceed what a non-football league can dole out in TV revenue and what the NCAA hands out for NCAA Tournament success – two historically strong revenue streams for top-level athletic programs.

The moves were among the last dominoes to fall in the Big East. Miami and Virginia Tech left the Big East for the ACC in 2004. Boston College followed suit in 2005. West Virginia left for the Big 12 in the summer of 2012.

Leaving with Louisville in 2014 is Rutgers, which will join the Big Ten. Maryland, from the ACC, will jump to the Big Ten with Rutgers.

Football Money Drives Conference Chaos

The large-scale exodus triggered a decision that was expected: chaos. The seven remaining private schools in the Big East– DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s and Villanova – either don’t play football at all or don’t play it at the highest level. That’s a primary reason they are breaking away from the other current league members (Cincinnati, Connecticut and USF) to form a basketball-only conference that will keep the Big East name (and thanks to negotiations, the vast majority of the basketball money).

The trio of schools left behind will be joined by a handful of other schools and be called the American Athletic Conference; that name will go into effect this fall.

All this change comes because of so much football money and because some athletic departments, despite the millions of dollars that change hands, struggle to make ends meet.

The six major conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-12 and Southeastern) have fattened their wallets with Bowl Championship Series money since 1998. The league champions in each of the six leagues have been guaranteed spots in a BCS bowl since the process began and the money handed out has increased each season.

This past season, the league champions from each of the conferences received about $23.6 million for their BCS spot. The Pac-12 and the SEC each had two teams in the BCS, and the second teams from each league received about $6.2 million.

This fall will mark the final season of the BCS, but to conferences that’s a good thing. A playoff system begins in 2014, and there will be even more money at stake.

Final Four Money Dwarfed by Football Dollars

Still, for major conferences, TV contracts supply an overwhelming share of their revenues. And 85 to 90 percent of that money comes from football.

When Maryland announced its move to the Big Ten, reports surfaced that the school expects to receive at least $7 million more per year in TV revenue in the Big Ten than it was expected to generate in the ACC (the school is projecting $24 million annually). Similarly, Louisville and Syracuse expect the ACC will generate about $13 million more a year than each now is receiving from the Big East (and about $15 million more than the remaining football members will make from a new TV deal).

In fact, the money that college football now generates makes the revenue from the NCAA Tournament seem to be a pittance, which is why, even if the Big East sent two teams to the Final Four every year, it still could not make enough money to keep its football-playing members satisfied.

NCAA Financial Math

Here’s how the financial math works:

The NCAA, which runs the basketball tournament but has nothing to do with a major-college football playoff, doles out money every year to participating conferences, which in turn distributes the money to member schools. The billions in tournament money comes from primary TV partner CBS.

The NCAA has a plan whereby a conference’s tourney results are averaged over a six-year period. Each game (except, interestingly, the national championship game) earns a conference one “unit.” A unit is worth $245,514 this season, and the number typically increases a bit each year.

Remember, though, that the money goes to the conference, not the particular school that played in the game, and it generally is spread evenly among the conference’s members (and the conference office may take a cut, too) via revenue sharing.

This math works out well for many schools that give the NCAA Tournament much of its allure. Fans watch in large numbers when teams such as Florida Gulf Coast, from the Atlantic Sun Conference, knock off blue-blood programs. And while the public enjoys the entertainment value of a No. 15 seed shocking a No. 2 seed, athletic directors in leagues such as the A-Sun also enjoy the unexpected financial boost. FGCU, for instance, earned the A-Sun almost $500,000 for its Sweet 16 run – a windfall for a small conference.

This season, a run to the title game by any school will earn its conference $1,227,560. The Big East, then, could benefit to the tune of $2,455,140 if both Louisville and Syracuse make the final – and that’s not including what the other six conference members who made this season’s field earned.

Reports show that the Big East last year received about $27 million in basketball tournament revenue, more than any other conference. The total then was parceled out to the 16 basketball-playing schools in the league, and the cut for each came to about $1.68 million.

It sounds like lot of money. It’s not. Louisville and Syracuse expect to receive about $17 million per year from the ACC’s new football TV contract.

Even Michigan, Wichita State Impacted

The football-driven game of conference musical chairs actually impacts the entire Final Four. Michigan is from the Big Ten, and the future additions of Maryland and Rutgers is going to affect the Wolverines’ annual financial take from the league.

And even the Missouri Valley Conference, which is the home of Final Four dark-horse Wichita State, is going to take a hit. Creighton is leaving the MVC for the “new” Big East this fall, and though neither Creighton nor Wichita State plays football, the future financial success of both has been affected by the sport.

Mike Huguenin is former college editor at Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com. He is also a Heisman Trophy voter.

10 Things You Might Not Know about the NCAA Tournament

Brackets are filled out, bets are placed and pools are made. It’s officially March Madness. While most are eager to earn bragging rights for their favorite teams, the universities are eager for the money they earn from joining the 68-team field. For the next couple of weeks, teams will be putting it all on the line in order to advance, and the NCAA couldn’t be happier.

Think you know all there is to know in the world of college hoops?

Here are 10 things you may not know about the NCAA Tournament:

1) Over 90 percent of the NCAA operating budget comes solely from this tournament. That is, 90 percent of the NCAA’s $797 million projected revenue for the year. While they do share that revenue with each conference participating in the tournament, there’s no denying that it is a lucrative event for all participating. Everyone makes out just fine, which is more than I can say for BCS bowl games.

2) The Kansas Jayhawks are making their 24th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, which is the longest active streak.

3) Speaking of streaks, a 16 seed has never beat a 1 seed in the history of the tournament. That means their record against 1 seeds is 0-112.

4) The tournament will cost companies $134 million in lost wages over the opening two days (March 21 and 22). This is because 3 million employees are estimated to spend 1-3 hours checking scores and watching games throughout the day instead of working. Some people will use vacation days in order to take off and watch. That’s commitment.

5) While some coaches will make out pretty well this year, one coach is missing out. Kentucky head coach John Calipari, whose Wildcats were crowned champions just last year, missed the tournament this year, costing the head coach a $700,000 bonus. Oh yeah, they lost in the first round of the NIT this year. Maybe it’s time for a salary cut …

6) But coaches also make a pretty penny. Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean received $25,000 for just getting his team to the tournament, and for each additional win, that number increases with the potential to make over half a million dollars if his Hoosiers win it all this year.

7) It’s likely that at least one 2 seed won’t make it through the first weekend. Only once in the last 16 years have all four of the 2 seeds made it to the Sweet 16. No pressure.

8) Bad news for Creighton, Notre Dame, Illinois and San Diego State: a 7 seed has never reached the championship game.

9) Ten teams are looking for their first NCAA tournament win. Only one of those teams, Florida Gulf Coast, is making its first appearance.

10) All of this talk is over a tournament that cost the NCAA just $2,531 when they bought it in 1940. Who would have ever thought it would become such a profitable event?

Talk about a great investment.

Income Taxes Push Athletes Out of California, Toward Florida

Phil Mickelson. Tiger Woods. Kobe Bryant. What do these three have in common? Well, they’ve all lived in California, all make millions of dollars a year, and should have no financial worries, right?

Wrong.

Woods, who ranks third on the list of America’s wealthiest athletes and brings home about $56 million a year, moved his residence from California to Florida in 1996 to escape the high income taxes in California. Why, you ask? Because Florida doesn’t have a state income tax, which means its residents bring in a lot more money per paycheck.

Saying Goodbye to the Golden State

Thanks to increased taxes in California, athletes across the Golden State have found themselves in the midst of a debate — not over who the best athlete is, but which state is the best to live in to protect their “hard-earned” money. Mickelson faced a lot of heavy criticism earlier this year when he said that California’s tax increase could drive him out of the state, in order to avoid sacrificing his comfortable lifestyle.

Now that California has increased the top state income tax bracket to 13.3 percent and federal taxes on the top income bracket have increased by around 5 percent, rich athletes who call California home are coughing up a considerable amount of cash a year to the government.

Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter left California last year for Texas — a move motivated solely by the lack of state income taxes. Now, it is true that employees who earn income for work done outside their home state have to pay nonresident taxes. This is often referred to as the “jock tax,”which means that athletes still have to pay state and local taxes while playing on the road. However, it also means that other forms of income, such as endorsements, are taxed solely in their home state.

Saving a Buck

So for athletes like Woods, who frequent California for work but claim residency in Florida, this results in a lot of extra cash. For an athlete making around $10 million a year, they will pay more than a million in state income taxes as a resident of California. In Florida, they will pay $0. The other states that offer no income tax are Texas, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington, Alaska and Wyoming.

Perhaps this means that teams in states such as California, with high income taxes, should pay their athletes more in order to compensate? That’s a whole other debate. Or maybe it means that more prominent athletes will take their skills to other teams, away from the glitz and glamour that California provides, in order to save a buck (or millions). Maybe there’s hope for the Jacksonville Jaguars after all.

Either way, it’s nice to see athletes facing the same financial situations as the rest of us.

BCS Bowl Games Bad Business for Colleges

It might surprise you to know that the winner and loser of tonight’s BCS title game was determined well before kickoff.

Notre Dame won. Easily. Alabama lost. Badly.

And no, this has nothing to do with the scoreboard.

This is about the bottom line number involved in playing in Bowl Championship Series games that are money losers for almost all the teams involved, despite guaranteed payouts of $18 million per team.

Huh? How do you lose money playing a bowl game?

Easy!

The payout for a BCS bowl game is $18 million – $28.4 million if you make the title game – but you don’t get it all.  In fact, you get a really small share. That’s Factor #1.

Factor #2 is that the invitation you get to come to a BCS bowl game includes a ticket-selling caveat that is deadly for nearly every school involved.

Let’s start with explaining Factor #1. The payout for bowl games goes to the conference the team represents, not the school itself. The conference then splits it with all its members. That means Vanderbilt and Mississippi State take home the same paycheck from the BCS title game as Alabama.

That’s one of the ways Alabama comes home a loser.

Notre Dame doesn’t play in a conference, but because of that, the Fighting Irish don’t get the full $28.4 million payout for being in a title game. They only get $6.4 million, but being an independent means they don’t share with anyone else.

That’s why the Irish will go home winners.

Notre Dame will bank about $2 million, after expenses. Alabama will owe the bank about $2 million, after expenses. The $4 million swing is example number 7,814 of what a polluted place college sports is these days.

Not that anybody cares.

Even Winners are Losers in Bowl Games

Colleges across the nation are willing to swallow million-dollar losses for the opportunity to send their football teams to games nobody, including their own alumni, care about.

The schools range from the obvious – Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida and Florida State – to the oblivious – Northern Illinois, West Virginia, Connecticut. They’ve all taken a bath going bowling in the big-money BCS games, losing anywhere from $1 million to $4 million, yet not one school president or Board of Trustees has bothered to raise the question about fiscal irresponsibility.

Florida, for example, lost $2 million this year playing in the worst-attended Sugar Bowl game since 1934. Northern Illinois easily topped that, losing $4 million as a participant in the equally-uninspired Orange Bowl game.

Which brings us to Factor #2: The million-dollar losses were because neither Florida nor Northern Illinois could sell anywhere close to the number of tickets required.

The Gators were asked to sell 17,500 seats to the Sugar Bowl. They sold 7,000, and plenty of those were giveaways. Florida was in a $2 million hole before the team boarded its chartered flight to New Orleans.

Northern Illinois also had to sell 17,500 seats to the Orange Bowl, which presented an immediate dilemma for the Huskies, since they only averaged 15,700 fans at home games. Even if they could have convinced every one of those fans to get a flight to Miami, rent a car and hotel room (minimum stay: four nights), buy their own meals and spend up to $225 for a ticket, they still couldn’t break even.

Northern Illinois did sell 3,000 tickets, gave another 12,000 away free to students, some veterans and members of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. The other 2,500? Apparently they couldn’t even give them away, which meant NIU and the Mid American Conference were on the hook for an estimated $4 million for unsold seats.

Florida State made an effort, but its fans weren’t interested any more than the folks in Illinois. FSU cut the price in half for all 17,500 tickets, but even at 50 percent off, it could only sell 6,000 seats. The Seminoles and ACC ate the rest.

Alabama is No. 1 at Paying Bonuses

It doesn’t seem possible that the people running those schools could possibly turn their backs on such wasteful spending, but it happens and nobody knows it more than the folks in charge at the University of Alabama.

The Crimson Tide needed $3.9 million to cover expenses for playing in last year’s BCS title game, but the revenue side of the ledger showed only $1.9 million, meaning ‘Bama was a $2 million loser for sending its team to New Orleans.

The Tide’s expense sheet included more than $1 million in bonuses for its coaching staff. Nick Saban, who already makes $5.4 million as the head coach, got a $400,000 bonus for getting the school in a position to lose $2 million by going to a BCS game. His assistants, the second-highest paid staff in the nation, got 15 percent more tacked on to their salaries for putting the school in position to lose $2 mil.

I wager professors in the biology department find that amazing. I have no doubt the guys teaching history could have used a $1 million bonus to improve salaries in their department.

For people in the athletic department, it’s the cost of doing business.

That’s where we are in college sports. Losing money in order to win football games makes sense. Fiscal responsibility is somebody else’s problem.

I’ll bet when these guys graduate, they’ll head directly to Capitol Hill.

New Jersey Residents Don’t Deserve to Pay for Rutgers’ Rice, Pernetti Ousters

Imagine being forced to leave your job . . . and being forced to accept $1.2 million on your way out the door.

That was the case at Rutgers University, where men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was fired last week amid reports of abusive behavior on the basketball court. After videos were released last week of Rice’s antics, the university fired him, and Rice’s boss, athletic director Tim Pernetti resigned.

Rice, who served a three-week suspension during the 2012-13 season because of his behavior, lost almost a quarter of his $700,000 salary during suspension. So why is he receiving a settlement of over $1 million after he got the ax? Because it turns out Rice did not violate any terms in his contract.

Fired without ‘Cause’

Rice was fired without “cause,” making him eligible to receive 75 percent of what he would have been paid over the final two years of his contract. Not including bonuses, Rice was to be paid $750,000 next year, making his payout more than $1.1 million.

Pernetti made out even better. He will receive his full salary — $453,000 — through June 2014. He will also receive any bonuses that were built into his contact based on student-athletes’ progress, financial goals and competitive success of any of the school’s revenue sports teams.

His $12,000 automobile stipend will also be paid until June 2014, and his health insurance benefits will go through October 2015.

Pernetti will also keep his Rutgers-issued iPad.

Just a Few Major Problems

I see a few major problems here.

The settlement costs will come out of Rutgers’ general athletic budget and will not be covered directly by private donations. That means the fine residents of New Jersey, a state that is still figuring out how to pay for the cleanup of Hurricane Sandy, are on the hook for this.

How can a coach come under fire for abusive behavior toward his players and still walk away with over a million dollars? Is that where tax money from the citizens of New Jersey should be going — to pay the salary of a man who treated the students at the state university like they were trash?

And how exactly does Pernetti get to walk away with so much cash? He was aware of Rice’s behavior but chose not to speak up until the rest of the country saw the videos.

He’s walking away with more than $1.2 million, not including bonuses. Bonuses? Why should he receive anything but ridicule and disrespect from those in the world of collegiate sports and the state of New Jersey?

I think both men should have to give money back to the university, to the student-athletes affected, to the taxpayers of New Jersey who funded Rice’s antics the past few years. The student-athletes who transferred because of Rice’s behavior had to sit out an entire season. They’re not going to get that time back, unless they go through a lengthy NCAA appeal.

Regardless, they’re not getting anything from Rutgers. Neither should Rice or Pernetti.