Rutgers University athletic director

Robert E. Mulcahy

will step down at the end of the month, the school's president said yesterday.

In a statement, Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick said Mulcahy will leave on Dec. 31, 2 days after the Rutgers football team plays in the Papajohns.com Bowl against North Carolina State in Birmingham, Ala.

"Bob Mulcahy has provided outstanding leadership for the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics at Rutgers for a decade," McCormick said. "I applaud his accomplishments and his tireless efforts on behalf of our student-athletes, the coaching staff, and the thousands of Rutgers fans."

McCormick said he will "act quickly" to name a successor.

The announcement of Mulcahy's departure comes less than a month after an independent committee appointed to review the school's athletic program criticized Mulcahy and other officials for failing to exercise proper oversight.

Mulcahy has been one of the driving forces behind the Rutgers football team's rise from one of the nation's laughingstocks to a program that has qualified for bowl games in four consecutive seasons.

But he came under criticism from inside the university after several minor sports were cut while the football team's expenditures skyrocketed.

Mulcahy did not return a message seeking comment.

In other college football news:

* Buffalo coach Turner Gill, fresh off an improbable Mid-American Conference title, is a candidate for coaching vacancies at Syracuse and Auburn.

* Three quarterbacks - Florida's Tim Tebow, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Texas' Colt McCoy, are finalists for the Heisman Trophy. The winner will be announced Saturday night.

* Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen will be the new coach at Mississippi State, replacing Sylvester Croom.

Philly File

* The Frankford Chargers advanced to the championship game of the 52nd Pop Warner Super Bowl for the Division I midgets in Orlando, Fla., with a 41-12 semifinal victory yesterday over the Detroit Hurricanes. They will play the Oak Ridge (N.C.) Colts in Saturday's title game.

Sport Stops

* Corey Pavin has been selected as the next U.S. captain in the Ryder Cup, two officials with knowledge of the discussions told the Associated Press.

* Bent Jensen, who despite pancreatic cancer coached Canada's lightweight men's four crew to a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics, has died in his native Denmark. He was 60. *