There is the prestige of moving to the Big Ten, and then there’s the money.
Rutgers, along with Maryland, are the latest additions to the conference, and this will be a financial windfall for the Scarlet Knights athletic program.
School officials have estimated Rutgers will make $200 million over the next 12 years from the move to the Big Ten. That’s according to an estimate reportedly given to the Rutgers Board of Governors a year ago.
It is no secret that Rutgers needs money. Rutgers diverted nearly $47 million from the school’s operating budget and mandatory student fees last year to cover a deficit in athletic spending, NorthJersey.com reported, and deficits are expected to continue for at least the next eight years.
A big chunk of the deficit was generated because of an athletic department scandal that involved the firing of the Rutgers basketball coach for his mistreatment of players and the firing of the athletic director for not attempting to discipline the coach.
It was important for the Big Ten to add Rutgers and Maryland to extend the conference and network footprint into the East, which has enormous population bases in New York City and Washington, D.C.
“With Rutgers and Maryland joining and all the Big Ten fans in that part of the country, we’re so excited about the Big Ten expanding to that area,” Big Ten Network president Mark Silverman said. “We really need to treat our two schools as full-fledged Big Ten members. We need to educate all the rest of the Big Ten community on what these two schools’ histories and traditions are.
“The Big Ten geography has expanded and all of our states are contiguous. All are similar in what our goals are, what our aspirations are. We’re really going out of our way to make sure these new territories and all the fans and alums there are treated the same way.”
Rutgers is way behind the rest of the Big Ten in terms of facilities, and athletic director Julie Hermann is launching a capital development plan to enhance the athletic campus for all of the Scarlet Knights’ sports.
Hermann also knows Rutgers must actively work to close the budget gap that separates her athletic program from the top of the Big Ten. It all starts with fundraising, and she will work from there.
But as Rutgers football embarks on its first season in the Big Ten, coach Kyle Flood believes this is the most natural progression for Scarlet Knights athletics as a whole and the football program in particular.
“Over the last year, I’ve gotten this question probably more than any: How do you feel about being in the Big Ten?” Flood said. “And my answer is: It feels right. I look at our football program and I look at the Big Ten, I see a tremendous marriage. I don’t think there’s any other conference in the country that we would want to play in, the premier academic-athletic conference that the Big Ten is. And I don’t think there’s any better choice that the Big Ten could have made than to add Rutgers University.”
Main campus: New Brunswick, N.J.
Undergraduate enrollment: 45,000.
Total enrollment: 65,000.
Motto: Sun of righteousness, shine upon the West, also.
Endowment: $684.6 million.
Famous alums: Chef Mario Batali, late actor James Gandolifini, former NBA commissioner David Stern.
Nickname: Scarlet Knights.
Mascot: The Scarlet Knight.
Sports teams: Nine men’s teams, 13 women’s teams.