Pernetti Updates RAC Progress

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – In part II of ScarletReport.com's time with Tim Pernetti at Rutgers media day, the athletic director goes in-depth on the upgrade process for the Louis Brown Athletic Center and discusses his relationship with incoming Rutgers University president Robert Barchi.

PISCATAWAY, N.J.— The early best-case scenario projection is to have the Rutgers men's and women's basketball teams playing in the revamped Louis Brown Athletic Center in 2015, said Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti.

For the much anticipated RAC renovations to take place, significant progress has already been made, but there is a long way to go before a timetable can be either realistic or accurate. Before anything can happen, Rutgers and partner, Michael Graves Associates, need to finish the final designs for the upgraded RAC and team practice facilities.

Partnered with Heery International for designs, Rutgers is "close" to finishing its designs.

"We've had six or seven, probably, meetings throughout the summer to go through ideas on design," Pernetti said. "We've had the coaches meet with the architects as well to talk about specific things they'll need.

"We expect to have the final design report with recommendations on what we can do and which way we can go by the end of the month, and then I think we'll spend a little time in September deciding how we want to approach it and plan to unveil something this Fall."

The RAC renovation plans will be split into two separate phases, with different goals. Phase one, Pernetti said, is centered around the practice facilities, with the ultimate goal of improving the experience of the teams housed in the RAC and putting Rutgers on even footing with other Big East basketball programs in terms of recruiting.

Phase two is to upgrade the Louis Brown Athletic Center, with the goals of making money and enhancing the fan experience.

"We've always looked at phase one, the practice facilities, as a private investment," Pernetti said. "That has to be fundraising we do to accomplish that because that, in essence, really won't be a revenue-generating proposition. It's more about facilities for student athletes and recruiting versus the arena, which is all about generating revenue much like we have [at High Point Solutions Stadium] with the club seating and everything else."

With hundreds of variables and fundraising remaining a key cog in the upgrades, Pernetti said he recently discussed a timetable and could see a scenario where work begins in 2013.

"Best-case scenario, if we can get the funding to the point where we think we can get it, would be able to start the project sometime between 2013 and 14 and ideally be in it for the '15 season," Pernetti said. "That's what we're working with right now. We haven't decided if that's the timeline or not. Obviously if the fundraising ramps up more quickly, it could be sooner. It could be longer. That's what we're playing with loosely right now."

Fundraising will remain a top priority for the project, but it is off to a strong start, including the reception of a more than $2 million donation, Pernetti said.

Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice and women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer have been highly involved in the process so far.

"Mike had some really productive meetings with the architects," Pernetti said. "He sat down and talked about, ideally, what we could do for men's basketball and Vivian and the conversations I've had with her.

"Our goal is really the project to build the practice facility to men's and women's basketball as essentially a mirror to each other. The facilities we provide for both will be exactly the same. … The reaction has been very positive and I'm continuing to engage them to be active in the project and to help raise the money."

Tim Pernetti Extra

Have you gotten to know new [Rutgers president Robert Barchi]?

"Dr. Barchi and I have spent some time together. We've talked and we met in person. He starts, obviously, on Sept. 1 and we have had a series of conversations. I know he's going to have his hands full with a lot of things being the new president, but I assure him that our commitment to run the department in a responsible way and grow the business and reduce University support have been, and continue to be our goals. I've explained clearly that I think there are some things we can do together to help that a little more quickly. There are some cultural things we need to look at within the university to help things along more quickly. I'm really looking forward to working with him.

On cultural changes

"As I said all along and it's not any secret to any of you guys, I feel strongly that athletics can play a role in helping to market and brand the University in a variety of different ways. It's frustrating to me, sometimes, to read about all of the things that get said on the negative side of what's going on at Rutgers because I've said this all along and I've said it from day one. This is a great place. There's great stuff going on here. Do we have our challenges? Of course we have our challenges. Everybody's got their challenges, but we're going to spend our time working the challenges and also talking about all of the great things about Rutgers. I think sometimes, New Jersey people forget that there's a lot of great things going on here. I think that's more about trying to make sure we put the positive stuff out in front as much as possible."

On Barchi and Big East

"In our first meeting, we did discuss both of our roles within the conference and I made very clear that athletic directors have a role and presidents certainly have a role. Especially given the higher-level things going on right now, the presidents are involved in pretty much everything. I'm going to do everything I can do to get him up to speed on what's been done, what's coming down the road, so he can play an active role in that. Also, I'm trying to be sensitive to the fact that he's working on a new medical school and being the new president and all of those things. I can't imagine what his schedule's going to look like his first year."


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