Rutgers AD Pernetti Reacts to Expansion

NEW YORK — It is official. Boise State and San Diego State will join the Big East Conference for football only and Central Florida, Southern Methodist and Houston are in for all sports. ScarletReport.com caught up with Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti on the recent developments. Pernetti broke down what the additions mean for Rutgers' future and more.

NEW YORK — Boise State, San Diego State, UCF, SMU and Houston are officially in, confirmed Big East commissioner John Marinatto on a media conference call. In an important and well-timed development for Rutgers, ScarletReport.com spoke to Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti about what it means for the Scarlet Knights.

Effect on Rutgers

For Pernetti and the Rutgers athletics programs, the addition of the five programs is a strong statement, but not a conclusive one.

Rutgers remains in a good position, Pernetti said, and today's additions provide key opportunities to the university.

"I've never really felt uncomfortable," said Pernetti on Rutgers' conference situation. "I think that the biggest priority and concern that everybody in the league had was making sure that the execution of this thing got done the right way. There's a lot at stake. I've always felt comfortable because of the assets that Rutgers possesses.

"That's why I've always felt comfortable and I think that our program is known more on a national level than it's ever been known, so being able to expand the footprint of the conference to a more national footprint, I think, supports that priority we have on continuing to build the brand of Rutgers, not only here in the region, but to build it across the country."

The benefits to the Rutgers football team are obvious. The Scarlet Knights add opponents in two fertile recruiting states — Texas and California — and get another game in Florida, which is already a pipeline for Greg Schiano's program.

Rutgers adds national name Boise State and shows recruits that the program is in a safer position to keep a BCS automatic qualifying bid.

For the rest of the athletic teams at Rutgers, the additions of UCF, SMU and Houston are positive signs, Pernetti said.

"I think that in Olympic sports, you constantly focus on experience and that it's a good thing because ... the league's going to be playing in Texas now and you can recruit football in Texas," said Pernetti, whose wife Danielle played lacrosse at Rutgers. "More great athletes come out of a lot of these different states in a lot of sports, so I think it's opening recruiting doors in a lot of states for our Olympic sports. I think that experience-wise it will be good and I can tell you that experience was a focus of what we did as we considered the football-only memberships of the western schools. It was very, very important that we didn't upset that balance and I think we found a place to conclude here that works on that front."

Effect on Big East

There is more work to be done to make the Big East as strong as possible, Pernetti said.

"I think it's a good step, but it's certainly not over," Pernetti said. "I think the important thing is that the rest of it gets executed the right way. I think it's a strong and important move for the Big East to establish a more national footprint, especially with everything that's going on in college sports. It's an important step, but it's not the last step. I think the important part of this moving forward is the conference should be discussing and considering how it's rebranded [now] that it's got a much more national footprint."

The three biggest storylines between the Big East and realignment are based on the new television deal, keeping the automatic-qualifier for the BCS and a potential championship game. Here is what Pernetti had to say.

On the next television deal...

"We have a great basketball league in the Big East, and at the same time as illustrated by a lot of these agreements that are being struck, football continues to be the driver. I think that stabilization is always discussed and I think that stabilization and enhancement of the football league or inventory, I think the Big East's issue was always numbers and inventory. I think it gets us a lot of great inventory. It expands our footprint. It's going to give us access to Texas, which I think is going to be great for all of our institutions in recruiting. At the end of the day, it's a good step. It's not the last step."

On a championship game and keeping the AQ...

"A championship game concept has been discussed long before this and it will continue to be discussed. ... There's a lot of things that could be occurring through the chatter about the BCS and the AQ and what's going to evolve and what's going to change. I think all those things need to factor in. Championship games need to be considered and set up to be successful. I think to set one up to be successful, it needs to be hosted at the home site of the team with the best record and I also think it needs to drive a significant amount of additional value into any league agreement or television contract in order for it to be something that makes sense for the league to execute."

Big East Commissioner John Marinatto reacts

"Over the last 32 years, the Big East Conference has constantly evolved along with the landscape of college athletics," Marinatto said. "The inclusion of these five great Universities, which bring a unique blend of premier academics, top markets, strong athletics brands and outstanding competitive quality, marks the beginning of a new chapter in that evolution. We are proud to welcome these schools to the Big East family.

"Much like the conference as a whole, the Big East name -- though derived 32 years ago based on the geography of our founding members -- has evolved into a highly respected brand that transcends borders, boundaries or regions. It's national. Our membership makeup is now reflective of that."

While on a conference call with the media, Marinatto confirmed the plans for an eventual title game between the winners of eastern and western divisions. For that to happen, the Big East needs to add two more schools. Those two targets, sources said, are Air Force and Navy. Air Force and Navy are also the targets needed to double the exit fee from $5 million and $10 million, sources said.

Marinatto said the Big East intends to hold Syracuse, West Virginia and Pittsburgh until July 1, 2014 out of the principle of honoring league bylaws. The five schools joining today, he said, become official members of the conference in 2013.


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