B1G Week: Rice Discusses Basketball Benefits

B1G Week at ScarletReport.com continues today with an in-depth look at the move's effect on basketball in the recruiting process. With the Big East bringing a stronger basketball reputation than football one, Rutgers coach Mike Rice discussed what the move away from the conference means for his program.

The Big East has a reputation as one of, if not the best, basketball conference in the NCAA. But loss after loss to the conference, from West Virginia to Syracuse to Louisville, is changing the conference.

For Rutgers coach Mike Rice, who has spent the last three years selling recruits on the Big East, moving to the Big Ten will be an adjustment, but a welcome one.

"There's excitement, but we just have to educate them," Rice said on recruiting. "They've heard so much about the Big East and the basketball brand, but the Big East is just a different brand now. It's about educating them and filling them in and their high-school coaches about the quality and high standards there are in the Big Ten and the excitement we have to be there."

Unlike in football where the benefits of leaving the conference are obvious, the improvements for basketball are subtler. Short term, the Big Ten provides a similar strength of schedule to the Big East.

Indiana currently checks in at No. 1 in the polls. The Big Ten currently has six programs in the top 25, compared to five for the Big East (that number drops to two if you discount teams leaving the conference).

"We went from one terrific basketball conference to maybe even a better one," Rice said. "When you add us and Maryland … and right now they have three of the top 10 teams in the polls. I think New Jersey, New York, Maryland, once they get more informed about the type of basketball that's being played it won't be too hard to attract talented student athletes."

In the long run, the financial opportunities stand out, especially when trying to fund raise and generate interest in the plans to renovate the Louis Brown Athletic Center.

"It's called stability," Rice said. "This project is certainly high up on the things that [athletic director] Tim Pernetti and our facilities people want because of how old this place is and the work that it does need. Once people get really excited, especially alumni and donors, it can get rolling. It won't just be Big Ten money or this or that. It's going to take some partners. Whether that's corporations, whether that's individual donors, I think people are already getting excited about the brand of the Big Ten. People want to be a part of that."

Rutgers has always held itself to academic standards, but moving to the Big Ten raises the bar. The emphasis on education remains in the forefront, Rice said, but a degree can mean even more now that Rutgers is a unanimous member of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation.

"It's Rutgers and [academics] are a big deal here," Rice said. "You have to be a serious student. You have to want to excel in both, on the floor and off the floor. The reputation, maybe the degree and diploma afterwards, being a Big Ten school and having so much prestige in what the Big Ten is, it would help Rutgers graduates in the long run."


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