The benefits of Rutgers' move from the Big East to the Big Ten will be far-reaching, but the biggest impact is on the finances involved.
It all revolves around football -- the driving force in re-alignment on an ever-shifting landscape -- and it will have enormous implications.
Rutgers athletics operates at a deficit. Athletic director Tim Pernetti implemented a five-year plan to cut operating costs, and the deficit was at $18.4 million last fiscal year, with the department on course to cut further into it this year. The Big East paid out $3.18 million to each football school last year. As the restructured Big East was discussing a new television deal, projections ranged from $8 to $12 million range per year. Projections of the Big Ten's next television contract have schools receiving $42 to $45 million annually, beginning in 2017.
A start date for the Scarlet Knights is yet to be announced, but Maryland is slated to join the league July 1, 2014, and is reasonable to believe Rutgers will join the same day.
SI.com is reporting Maryland will get $32 million from the Big Ten in 2014, which is when the Terrapins and Scarlet Knights are expected to join the league. A number for Rutgers is not yet available, but that is short-term thinking.
In the next five years, Rutgers' revenue stream will increase astronomically, and the benefits should be seen everywhere, including with an easier time renovating the Rutgers Athletic Center and helping balance the recruiting pitfalls men's basketball coach Mike Rice and women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer are up against when recruiting against other programs with facilities that are not antiquated.
There are many other benefits as well, and much of it falls to the football program.
- Big Ten fan bases travel much better than the Big East. So if Rutgers is 8-0, nationally ranked and playing at home against a Big Ten school, any ticket not gobbled up by a Rutgers fan likely will be purchased by the opposing team.
Selling an additional 5,000 seats for a game (Rutgers is averaging 48,466 fans this season but gives out a number of complimentary tickets) could generate an extra $250,000 per game in ticket sales. Add in concessions and ancillary expenses for fans, and it could mean another $2 million per season straight to Rutgers.
- Recruiting is the lifeblood of a program. Even when former coach Greg Schiano was building the program, he had to fight against recruiters saying the Big East was not a legitimate conference.
The more recent development was schools telling prospects Rutgers would not have a seat at the table when it came to an NCAA football playoff. That is now a moot point.
- Marketing. The Rutgers brand will be exposed to a bigger market, and the ability to sell the Rutgers brand should increase markedly.
- Rutgers wrestling will have the opportunity to become a national power and increase its revenue stream.
- Academic prestige. Take athletics out of the equation and ask yourself where Rutgers belongs as a learning institution
It is a land grant, research-based state university and a member of the prestigious American Association of Universities.
There should also be a monetary advantage on the academic side through research grants and the ability to share research ideas and projects with other Big Ten schools.
Rutgers has long been a strong academic school, appreciated much more out-of-state than by those within the state, but being lumped in with Boise State, San Diego State and many others in the new Big East threatened to devalue the degree.
That is no longer the case.
Rutgers played the first college game, and beat Princeton. It has long been a source of pride – and sometimes the only source of pride – with the football program.
Rutgers' faithful is used to the "RU Screw," but in the most memorable day in the school's athletic history, to be matched only by Tuesday's formal announcement, the screw was untwisted.