And Then There Were 14 — The Big Ten Adds Rutgers
By Tony Gerdeman
The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors announced on Tuesday that they had unanimously approved the addition of Rutgers University to the Big Ten Conference, with competition to begin in all sports at a date to be determined.
"The Big Ten includes America’s most highly regarded academic institutions, known for both their athletic success and academic achievement," said Rutgers President Robert Barchi.
"This is exactly the right conference for Rutgers. Our university is one of the nation’s leading research universities and our student-athletes excel in the classroom and on the playing field."
When asked exactly when Rutgers would be joining the conference, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany indicated that decision would be left up to Rutgers and the Big East to determine.
The Big East has a $10 million departure fee, as well as a 27-month notification period. However, it was about 13 months ago when West Virginia announced that they would be leaving the Big East for the Big XII, and they successfully negotiated an early withdrawal and began playing in the Big XII this calendar year.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh have also successfully negotiated early withdrawals from the Big East in the past year.
With yesterday's announcement that Maryland would be joining the Big Ten in 2014, perhaps Rutgers will shoot for that same timeframe as well.
"It will come about when it comes about," Delany said following the announcement.
Perhaps the happiest person in this whole affair is Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti, who will now have an influx of funds that he could have only dreamed of back when he took the job in 2009.
"This is a historic day for Rutgers University," Pernetti said.
"It is an honor to join such a prestigious conference and begin our partnership with the outstanding institutions in the Big Ten. There is no finer conference in the nation that combines top-notch academics and athletics."
Rutgers currently funds 24 varsity sports (10 men's, 14 women's). Like Maryland, they have had to cut some sports for financial reasons. By joining the Big Ten, however, those cuts will come to an end, and the intent is to have a much brighter future.
"I think this creates a platform for visibility that Rutgers has never seen," Pernetti said.
For Rutgers, that visibility will open them up to millions of new homes through the Big Ten's television partners, including the Big Ten's own television network.
For the Big Ten, however, Delany says that this wasn't simply a play for the Rutgers television market.
"It was a factor—I think it's a factor that's been a little overplayed, to be honest with you," Delany said.
"The assessment by us was really one that there had been a paradigm shift in conferences. We were maybe slow to take it up. We lived with 11 members for 20 years. We weren't necessarily seeing ourselves at 14 or 16 members when we added Penn State in 1990.
"We weren't seeking the New York market. We were seeking a great institution located in an adjacent state with a prosperous academic and athletic approach. It wasn't a TV play. When we looked at institutions and markets, if we hadn't been able to achieve an agreement with Maryland and Rutgers, we wouldn't be here. It's heavily institutional."
With the two new additions, discussion to play nine conference football games is back on the table. Also on the table is a revamped layout for the football divisions. Delany sees the possibility of a more geographic grouping down the road, but despite reports that decisions have already been made in that regard, he says any report of such right now would "have no basis in fact".
Of note, Rutgers began playing football in 1869, and their 6-4 win over Princeton that year is considered to be the first ever intercollegiate college football game.
From the Big Ten's press release: Established in 1766, Rutgers is America’s eighth oldest institution of higher learning and one of the nation’s premier public research universities. Serving nearly 60,000 students on campuses in Camden, Newark and New Brunswick, Rutgers is one of only two New Jersey institutions represented in the prestigious Association of American Universities.
Rutgers is the sole university in the United States that is a colonial college, a land-grant institution, and a public university. The university draws on a storied legacy of innovation and strong ties to a complex and diverse state to serve the public through education, research, and community engagement.
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