A day after officially welcoming Maryland as member number thirteen the Big Ten gave their approval to add Rutgers University as member number fourteen on Tuesday. Unlike the Terps the Scarlet Knights entry date is yet to be determined based on negotiations with the Big East conference in the coming weeks and months.
But, that didn't spoil the good feelings in New Brunswick-Piscataway, NJ and in the Big Ten offices on Tuesday. Rutgers clearly feels like it has found a home that's stable and secure, something it's current home, the Big East isn't.
"The Big Ten is really where Rutgers belongs,” said Rutgers President Robert Barchi to reporters on Tuesday.
“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 in a statement released Tuesday. “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.”
Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti has had a long standing relationship with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and that relationship led to conversations about potential membership over the past few years, but according to Pernetti those discussions didn't become serious until the past 3-4 weeks. He considers this move to be one that will greatly change Rutgers athletics.
"It's a transformative day for Rutgers University," said Pernetti at todays announcement press conference. "The Big Ten Conference is the ultimate academic neighborhood to live in and we're now in that neighborhood with like minded institutions."
Just like for Maryland yesterday the move also helps solidify a program looking to the future and looking to become a bigger piece of the athletic pie.
"What this means for us is it means stability in an unstable time," said Pernetti. "It's secured our future as an athletics program and a university. It's given us great access to so many things competitively, including the new postseason in football, which is a key piece for us moving forward."
Adding Rutgers to the conference means adding a school that has history in football, after all they played the first ever collegiate game ever, a 6-4 victory over Princeton. Now, truthfully speaking this isn't a university with a rich history outside of that event, but like the move to add Maryland this is about what could be in the future and not what has been athletically with these schools.
Sure, the Scarlet Knights are currently 9-1 in this football season and of the two new members are probably the best positioned to compete right away, but winning the Big East and becoming Big Ten champions are light years apart. It will take time and that's clearly on the minds of all parties involved in this move.
Rutgers has 24 sports (10 men, 14 women) and has won 5 national championships in football fencing, men's lacrosse, and women's basketball so they also add a broad base of tradition to the conference.
More importantly than all of that it adds a population base that can be turned into Big Ten and college sports fans alongside their pro sports love affair, or at least that's what Delany, Pernetti, and Barchi are banking on. Time will be the ultimate determiner of whether or not these moves work, but you have to give credit to the Big Ten, Maryland and Rutgers for being proactive and not reactive to what could be happening around them had they continued to stay still.
For the full remarks from Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti you can find them below: