SBD/November 20, 2012/Colleges

Rutgers To Follow Maryland To Big Ten, Expected To Seek Early Exit From Big East

Rutgers could draw more fans to home games with its entry to the Big Ten
The Rutgers Univ. BOG has “voted to authorize AD Tim Pernetti to accept a formal invitation to join the Big Ten when it arrives this morning,” according to Dick Weiss of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Sources "indicated that a press conference has been scheduled" for 2:00pm ET today. The move “not only will create financial security for Rutgers athletics, it could eventually make the Knights a major brand name on the East Coast in all sports.” While the Univ. of Maryland will begin play in the Big Ten with the '14-15 season, Rutgers reportedly “will attempt to pay the Big East a $10 million to $20 million exit fee and join its new conference as early as possible.” The school “will continue to play home games at its 54,000-seat on-campus football stadium.” Rutgers is “not planning to expand its basketball arena, but would have to modernize its facilities to keep pace with other Big Ten programs” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/20). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Rachel Bachman reports the move “could improve the Rutgers athletic department's sagging finances and boost the school's profile.” Former Rutgers BOG member George Zoffinger said, "Moving to the Big Ten was always a major goal at Rutgers, because it basically got the school into the league that would have drawing capacity at the stadium." Bachman notes Rutgers has “needed large university subsidies -- among the highest in the nation -- to plug athletic-department shortfalls.” Rutgers also “took on significant debt to fund a recent $102 million stadium expansion despite struggling to sell out its games.” The Big Ten with Rutgers joining would “gain a foothold in the coveted New York TV market, potentially increasing the millions of dollars it already commands annually in broadcast rights” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/20).

NECESSARY MOVE: Rutgers may have to pay an increased exit fee to leave in time for next season, but in Newark, Tom Luicci writes the “tradeoff may well be worth it” for a program that “has operated for years in the red and been heavily subsidized by the university.” Rutgers’ “financially-strapped athletic department will also receive a cash infusion that could potentially dwarf anything the school would have reaped in the Big East” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/20). Supporters of the move said that it “could mean a windfall for the university, which subsidized its athletic programs to the tune of $19.4 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year.” In New Jersey, Patricia Alex reports the Big Ten, which “has its own television network, gave each of its 12 schools up to $24.6 million” (Bergen RECORD, 11/20). SportsNet N.Y.’s Chris Carlin said the move is a “no-brainer." Carlin: "You don’t even think twice about this … for one primary reason: Money.” He said Rutgers will go from earning $6M a year from the Big East’s TV contract to $25M a year in the Big Ten, which is a “huge difference for an athletic department that for a long time has been operating in the red here. They need to get a little bit more fiscally stable and start making money” (“Loud Mouths,” SportsNet N.Y., 11/19).

BIG IMPROVEMENT: In Newark, Steve Politi writes under the header, “By Joining Big Ten, Rutgers Did Better Than Any School In College Realignment.” Politi: “Who out there did better?” Rutgers “just wanted a lifeboat.” It ended up “on a Carnival cruise ship” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/20). In N.Y., Lenn Robbins writes this “latest shift on the landscape of college athletics is a flat-out no-brainer.” Robbins: “It’s a no-brainer for the Big Ten. It’s a no-brainer for Rutgers … And it’s a no-brainer for Maryland, which yesterday announced it was leaving the ACC.” Rutgers “finally escapes the shadow that has hung over it for eternity.” For Maryland, the move is “the equivalent of learning that a distant uncle who recently passed left you a billion dollars” (N.Y. POST, 11/20). YAHOO SPORTS’ Pat Forde wrote, “I'm not blaming Maryland or Rutgers for doing what they're doing. … They need money, and the Big Ten has money. But neither school should act as if they earned this upgrade via excellence on the field” (, 11/19). In Chicago, Rick Morrissey writes the Big Ten’s moves are “about progress and money, and you know what happens when the path of the proposed highway runs through your home." Morrissey: "You better take the cash and get out of the way” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/20).
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