Rutgers joins Big Ten

Posted: November 21, 2012

Rutgers took its turn Tuesday expressing thanks for being approved for admission as the 14th member of the Big Ten Conference, saying it was a good fit with the league's other institutions.

But the move of the Scarlet Knights from the Big East to the Big Ten primarily is about stability for their athletic programs and the increased money that will be generated by their affiliation with the conference.

Finances have been an issue at Rutgers since the football team rose from doormat status to being competitive. That growth resulted in a $102 million expansion of the football stadium and a boost to a seven-figure salary for former coach Greg Schiano.

To reduce a deficit that reportedly reached nearly $20 million annually, the university cut six athletic programs in 2006. Rutgers' athletic department receives millions of dollars in subsidies from the general fund.

However, the move into the Big Ten, which generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue for each member school from its Big Ten Network, broadcast television contracts, and bowl appearances, is expected to produce a brighter financial picture once Rutgers joins the conference in 2014 or 2015.

Speaking at an on-campus news conference in Piscataway, N.J., Rutgers president Robert Barchi said he and athletic director Tim Pernetti are committed to reducing the university subsidy to athletics "by about a million dollars a year as we go forward."

"Do I anticipate that this new agreement with the Big Ten will allow us to completely eliminate that subsidy?" Barchi said. "I wouldn't be surprised. We're talking about quite a few years from now before that fully materializes as we work through the transition time frame."

That time frame is uncertain for now. The Big East, of which Rutgers has been a member since 1991, requires a 27-month notice from a member school intending to switch conferences, with an exit fee of $10 million. Maryland, which announced its move to the Big Ten on Monday, will be ready to join the conference on July 1, 2014, but Rutgers may not accompany the Terrapins at that time.

San Diego State athletic director Jim Sterk said Tuesday that the Aztecs are committed to joining the Big East in 2013. Sterk essentially ruled out the possibility of the Aztecs' staying in the Mountain West Conference.

Pernetti said that he had spoken earlier Tuesday with Big East commissioner Mike Aresco and that "we will work as productively as we can to resolve that matter and other matters as we plan to withdraw and enter the Big Ten Conference."

In a statement, Aresco said: "Although we are disappointed that Rutgers has decided to leave the Big East Conference, we wish them well. They have been a valued member of the conference for many years."


Contact Joe Juliano at  jjuliano@phillynews.com or on Twitter @joejulesinq.

This article contains information from the Associated Press.

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