If Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs' microphone was a handheld, he would have dropped it after a definitive final sentence during his Tuesday morning press conference.
To sum up a 25-minute fund-raising update in one sentence, Hobbs said, “A high school basketball recruit now will practice in that facility.”
Just five months on the job, Hobbs (with plenty of credit to his staff) received the three largest donations in Rutgers athletics history and is more than halfway to the $100 million facility goal. Roughly 90 percent of donations go toward the multi-sport indoor facility that houses Rutgers basketball.
Hobbs and his staff changed the game with Tuesday's announcement. Instead of theory crafting and doing more than less, it's time to get to work.
“I didn’t know how quickly we would be able to turn that into the level of financial support that we are able to talk about today,” Hobbs said. “The timeline sort of doesn’t matter for me. The projects matter. Getting them done matters. I don’t have a timetable other than to continue to work as hard as we’ve all worked and to trust and be confident that we’ll get it all done. If anybody sort of looks at this and says, ‘I don’t think they are going to get it done,’ I don’t think they are reading this the right way. And that’s why we’re excited about today.”
There is no if for Hobbs or his fund-raising team led by Sarah Baumgartner.
Rutgers has enough progress with its funds to begin the planning stages of the indoor practice facility and then construction begins.
The goals do not stop there. Hobbs wants physical upgrades at the RAC, including a better look from the outside and more interactivity for students in front of the building.
Hobbs recently compared the Rutgers facilities to programs in the MAC. The plans for Rutgers basketball far exceed those comparisons, Hobbs said.
“With the multi-sport facility, we can be giving those teams that are going to be housed in there the very best of what's available in the Big Ten,” Hobbs said. “Not every basketball program and their practice court has a court-and-a-half, which allows you to have three-point stations and things like that. We're going to incorporate a court-and-a-half. We'll have the lounge We'll have the nutrition bar. We'll also have a better training table. It's going to be a very exciting space. There will be common areas that can be used by all teams.”
Perhaps most importantly, Hobbs knows how to put his ideas into words that mean something to Rutgers fans (and more importantly the donors).
“This is a building that, and I've said this repeatedly to the architects and everyone, this is perhaps the most important building built for Rutgers athletics in a very long time, so it's got to be done the right way.... Everybody feels this moment right now for Rutgers. We're going to do this.”