Big East football power, Rutgers University, officially joined the Big 10 Tuesday, making the New Jersey based school the 14th member of legendary athletic conference. The Big East was decimated by the defection of Rutgers; particularly after losing Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia at the end of 2011.
Rutgers followed Atlantic Conference member, Maryland, who accepted an invitation to the Big Ten on Monday. The two schools will bring much needed revenue from the lucrative East Coast market to the once exclusively Mid-Western conference. The school will also benefit financially from the move; the Big East only pays about six million dollars a year to its members, but the university will receive about 24 million dollars a year from the Big Ten after its first full season.
While there is normally a 27 months’ notification requirement for departing schools, Rutgers hopes to negotiate a deal to leave the conference quickly. The Big Ten would like Rutgers and Maryland to begin competing at the same time.
Rutgers announced the decision at a campus news conference attended by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, Rutgers President Robert Barchi and athletic director Tim Pernetti. President Barchi spoke to reporters about the reason the university decided to make the move:
“The Big Ten is really where Rutgers belongs. This is not just a good fit for us athletically, it’s a good fit for us academically and as an institution.”
Athletic Director Pernetti addressed the importance of athletics and academics to a major American university:
“It’s a transformative day for Rutgers University, and transformative in so many ways. This is about collaboration at every level, the perspective the Big Ten institutions have, the balance between academics and athletics, proving over decades and decades that athletics at the highest level and academics at the highest level can coexist. It’s the perfect place for Rutgers.”
Despite the disappointment over losing Rutgers, Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco had nothing but praise for the program:
“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.”
Rutgers was better known for academic excellence when it joined the Big East in 1991. The university made a determined decision to salvage the struggling football program and the effort was finally rewarded with an invitation to join the Big 10.
Over the last seven years, the football team has gone to a bowl game six timed and the Rutgers administration invested millions of dollars in the program. Presently, Rutgers is ranked number 21 nationally, with a 9 -1 record, and the school is on track to receive its first ever invitation to the Bowl Championship Series. The school is also favored to win the Big East Championship before departing the conference.
The move features the Scarlet Knights Football Team but all official Rutgers University sports teams will now compete under the banner of the Big Ten. It is a sad day for Big East football fans and a day of new horizons for a New Jersey university heading to one of America’s most famous athletic conferences, the mighty Big Ten.