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Rutgers joins Big Ten, citing strengthening athletics, academics

Published November 20, 2012 1:23 pm

College athletics • Rutgers officials call Big Ten 'exactly the right fit'
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Rutgers University is moving to the Big Ten Conference, ending a more than two-decade affiliation with the Big East as it looks to strengthen its athletic, financial and academic standing.

One day after the University of Maryland said it would join the Park Ridge, Ill.-based league following a 59-year run as a charter member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Rutgers, based in New Brunswick, N.J., further broadened the Big Ten's U.S. East Coast footprint by becoming its 14th school.

"This is exactly the right conference for Rutgers," school president Robert Barchi said in a statement. "Our university is one of the nation's leading research universities and our student-athletes excel in the classroom and on the playing field."

The Scarlet Knights' application was unanimously accepted by the other members of the Big Ten, Barchi said in a televised news conference.

Rutgers, which led U.S. public schools in athletic- department spending directed from university budgets and student fees last year, will reap millions more directly from athletics with the new conference affiliation. Having yesterday approved the acquisition of a medical school as part of a restructuring of the state's higher education system, Rutgers is joining a highly regarded research consortium consisting mostly of Big Ten universities.

Rutgers beat Princeton 6-4 in the first intercollegiate football game in 1869, and defeated Boston College in the first Big East football game in 1991. It became a conference member for all sports in 1995.

Conference Lineup

In the Big Ten, it will join Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin.

The conference, with a television network that reaches 73 million cable and satellite subscribers, paid its schools $24.6 million last year, according to the Washington Post. Big East schools took in $6 million, according to the Star-Ledger of Newark, New Jersey. The Big Ten also will renegotiate its television contract in 2017, which probably will further raise the value of the deal. With Penn State reaching the Philadelphia market, Rutgers and Maryland gives the conference a presence from New York to Washington, D.C.

"Our job at Rutgers starting today is to create new value for the Big Ten," Athletic Director Tim Pernetti said at the news conference.

Rutgers funneled $28.5 million from its university budget and student fees into sports for the fiscal year that ended in June 2011, the most among 54 U.S. public universities in the biggest football conferences, based on data compiled by Bloomberg. It was at least the second straight year that Rutgers led the list.

Pernetti reduced athletic-department spending by $4 million, or 6.3 percent, in fiscal 2011. Still, the school's faculty council voted in March to demand cuts of $5 million in university funding of athletics by fiscal 2016.

Rutgers's boards of governors and trustees voted yesterday to merge with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. With entry to the Big Ten, Rutgers will also gain access to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of Big Ten schools and the University of Chicago that collaborate in research initiatives.

Rutgers's exit from the Big East will leave 16 schools participating in most sports in the conference as of July 1, 2014, with Pittsburgh and Syracuse moving to the ACC a year earlier and Notre Dame going to the ACC for all sports except football at an undetermined date. As of July 2015, there would be 12 teams committed to Big East football.