Full Press Conference: Rutgers Big Ten Build Campaign Surpasses $50 Million, AD Pat Hobbs Announces.

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- The Rutgers Big Ten Build Campaign surpassed $50 million in a goal toward $100 million and multiple facility upgrades on campus. Watch the entire press session with athletic director Pat Hobbs and read the transcript inside.

Rutgers AD Pat Hobbs and Opening Statement

A number of you have been asking about an update on where we are with our B1G Build campaign. On Jan. 19 the Governor signed the legislation giving us $25 million of tax credits to support our efforts. So on Jan. 20 we went right out and announced that we were going to be moving full force to raise $100 million total, including the $25 million of support from the Governor and from the state. So today we’re going to talk about where we are and where we need to go to get to the finish line here.

I want to start by talking about the incredible sense of optimism that I find out there with our supporters, Rutgers alums, folks who just care about Rutgers University. And that has been evident from New Brunswick, throughout New Jersey, down to Florida, out in California. Incredible. You wear the ‘R’ and the number of people who come up to you and are excited about where we’re going, want to talk about Rutgers, it’s tremendous. I also want to make sure before I give you the actual numbers of where we are, I want to talk about the people who are responsible for the effort and what we’re doing here. One of the things I was told, which has been born out since I’ve been here, is Rutgers has incredible people. I know that’s true from our Board, down to Dr. Barchi, and to our staffs and our teams. But with this effort I’ve had an opportunity to work very closely with our fundraising staff. That group is led by Sarah Baumgartner, and I will tell you I don’t think there’s a better person in athletic fundraising today. She has a passion for it, and part of that is born out of the fact that she was a college athlete. So she knows more than anyone what these facilities will mean to our student-athletes. She’s done a lot over the years to keep everybody with that sense of purpose and that sense of direction of where we’re going. I want to compliment Sarah on everything she’s done to make this happen. And she’s put together a great team. I am going to name them: Rich Knupp, Marco Battaglia, Maggie Long, Andy Sisti, Joe Levine, Lucy Cruz, Liz McAuliffe, Masona Lam and Carissa Conroy. Tremendous people, all working their tails off to support Rutgers and to build this for Rutgers. So I want to say thank you publicly to them.

So where are we? I guess a little over 15 weeks now, we have $29.3 million in cash or pledges that are committed. So if you add the state support to that we are well over $50 million and more than halfway toward our goal to get the $100 million to support the building of these three facilities. It includes the three largest gifts in Rutgers Athletics history. Those gifts were made by Greg and Anna Brown. Steve Plofker and Bobbi Brown, and Jeff and Amy Towers. You can’t do things without leadership. Right there you have a group of people who are leaders for Rutgers, who want to see this done, who understand the importance and benefits to this, and they’re not just generous with their resources. All of these people have offered their homes, and when somebody opens their home up and says bring everybody in that you can, this is our moment, this is our time for Rutgers, you cannot be more pleased with it but awed by the commitment and dedication of these people. So I want to say thank you in particular to Greg and Anna, to Steve and Bobbi and to Jeff and Amy. Tremendous support, and you are the leaders. You are the people who are making sure that this gets done.

There are 10 gifts of $1 million or more in this. So we’re talking about large support, big support, generous support, by a number of people. So of them you know about. Obviously the Garuttis stepped up their support and they’re funding the new weight room over at the Hale Center. Again, passionate, passionate people. So everybody who has made a contribution. They’re passionate about this. About 90 percent of the support to date is to the multi-sport facility. That’s the one that we want to build for practice facilities for our men’s and women’s basketball team, our wrestling and our gymnastics program. So we’ve really focused on that. If somebody could write a check for $100 million we could do all three things at once. That facility is really important. I’ve talked about how that facility is not just important for the benefits that it provides our programs, but it’s our signal that we are going to be competitive, we are going to compete in the Big Ten and we are going to compete in the Big Ten to win championships.

We are in the design phase of the multi-sport facility. Engineering work will begin this summer. We’ll start then to work on construction contracts. So this is going. This is moving now. This train is rolling along the track, and will this level of support in a mere 15 weeks, we’re very confident that we’re going to be able to get the full support that we need for this.

The campaign so far includes 923 donors. That’s a great number. That’s a wonderful number of people who have stepped up in a very big way. 71 of those donors have committed over $25,000. But to do this, to succeed, we’re going to need over 10,000 donors. Now the good news is we have almost a half-million alums who can contribute to this effort.

We are in the infancy of this and our expectation is we will blow through that number and will be able to consider doing some other projects and getting some other projects off the floor. So that's where we are in there of our donors and the total amount. As I stated on Jan. 20 for this to be successful, and this will be successful, we have to be all-in. That was the time I talked about every single senior member of the athletics staff made ac commitment to this, every coach has made a commitment to the Big Ten Build and so I said to the folks out there "we're all in, are you?'

So that is where we are going here. Is moving out now with the the Big Ten Build campaign, and large gifts are incredibly important but everybody can do something to support this. you might consider a $10 a month gift is not meaningful, it's incredibly meaningful to what we are trying to accomplish this year. It means you are in, you are committed. Think about that, $10 a month, that's two Starbucks coffees, a six-pack of beer, I don't know. something like that. We are not asking you to give up too much to get this all done. That $10 a month is a $600 gift over five years. $50 a month is a $3,000 gift. That's tremendous contribution to what we are trying to do. $100,000 a month you can be the lead donor to this campaign. Let's see if that happens. After a short while, after we talk today, we are going to go out with the email update, telling everyone that we have updated our Big Ten Build website. There are a lot of opportunities and information on that website, so folks can get existed about where we are, see our success, have barometers in there, showing where we are in terms dollars and where we are in terms of donors. that's why every donor is important to this. We'll regard this campaign as successful when we crack over the 10,000 donor, not just $100 million. We'll also we going or in the next couple of weeks with our Big Ten Build captains programs, so we are going to be looking for people who want to be real leaders in this, both at the high end level and the lower level, and our goal will be if each of those leaders gets 10 people to participate, it's the best of pyramid schemes. It's a pyramid scheme that benefits Rutgers athletes and makes sure that we have success.

With that I'll turn it over to some questions and ......Let's say I am happy where we are and we have a lot of work to do but 15 weeks in I feel we are making some real progress."

On Construction timetable...

"In terms of construction now we are just going to move forward with construction time lines. So as long as long as it takes the architects to finish the designs piece of this, and get the engineering work, that's not going to now wait for where are we on fundraising. that just progresses with the usual time lines of construction, so multi-sport facility is moving and going forward.”

Could Construction Begin Soon?

I think the engineering and design work, what we have almost finished is the massing of the project. there is the massing phase where you are seeing what fits where. we want this to be really exciting space so we are taking time with this. as i have toured the country and seen other big 10 facilities i always ask the question if you could go back and re-do it what did you do wrong. we are taking all of that intelligence and we are bringing it back to this facility. I feel the architect now feel comfortable with everything we have. our latest tweak was we increased the strength and conditioning area 30 percent because our new strength and conditioning coach in basketball Dave Van Dyke, made the case that if we are going to do this the right way that’s what we need to do. So that piece is now done, the look is very important and Dr. Barchi is going to be very involved in that. we have some really interesting buildings built over the campus and we want to this to be an iconic structure and as I said, an important part of who we are in the Big 10, so we are going to be careful with that. but then the engineering work can coincide with that, then you have to go out and bid on your construction fees. But's that's not going to be where are you with this? I have confidence now that we are going to have the funds there so it is whatever the usual construction time is. What i will try to do is when I have that, i know people are interested in when are we going to have steel in the ground or concrete in the ground, as soon as I have that update I will come out and give you an update on that as well.”

New RAC appearance...

"I can't, I know it is going to be exciting because the architects are now at work on the rendering. so we are hoping that maybe within a month we will be able to come out with a rendering. obviously that has to be approved by Dr . Barchi and it has to work through the facilities folks here. but it's going to be an exciting building. It will look very different. It's going to be a building which I think people will look at and say: 'I get it. We are going to compete in the Big Ten."

On RAC upgrades...

We have to do something, obviously, with the RAC. In phase two, I'd like to look at doing something to change the facade of the RAC. Also in phase two of what we're doing here, we're going to take that space in front of the RAC and we're going to create a nice plaza. And that plaza will not be just for athletics but it's going to be for the Livingston campus. The rendering will include that even though we'll need to get another gift to complete the plaza. I would like to see in front of the RAC, we'll consider the use of some LED [video boards], so we can have some outdoor entertainment and messaging and branding going on, but that's probably phase two of this. Right now, number one is getting the multisport facility built.”

On donors seeing physical progress...

It's really important. Now that I've been here for five months, I know how important. A number of times, I've had the question asked of me 'Is it going to happen this time?' That sort of surprises me in a way because I've never thought for a minute that it's not. That's our job. That's what we're going to do. That's a little part of today too. When you go out and you say, hey we're already over the $50 million mark and that's 15 weeks into this effort, I think I would hope that any doubters would change now and say that they are going to do this. This is going to happen. The renderings will be an important piece to that as we get forward. Seeing some dirt moved around there, whether by engineers or by concrete workers is going to be really important. We'll just keep moving. In time, the last skeptic will change and say 'I'm all in.'”

On the $29 million donated...

That's pledges in cash and the pledge can be over five years. That's the other thing that we're really trying to message. Some folks, as you're talking to them, they [ask] will I have to give that all now. This is over five years. Once you have those pledges over five years, you know you're going to be going through construction at the same time. You can always manage the financing as you go through. That's cash and pledges. Some of the money actually has come in and is sitting in accounts. Right now, it's about getting those pledges, getting those commitments and once those are all in over that five-year period we're moving.”

On changes in BoG physical masterplan...

We'll continue to tweak to make sure it's the best plan possible. I was recently down at Johns Hopkins for our Big Ten championship. Unfortunately it didn't end the way we wanted it to. We would have liked to have been in the NCAA tournament but tremendous effort by our guys. I want to again congratulate coach [Brian] Brecht on a great job this year. One of the things that I did when I was down there, I went through their facility, which is four years old. Their deputy AD gave me a tour of that. Again, I asked the question, 'so if you could do this differently, what would you do?' I learned a few things. I won't reveal what we talked about but every time I have one of those conversations, it affects how I want to do things. You look at the soccer and lacrosse complex that we want to build. Just the placement of that, where that sits, whether you can build a turf practice field to support our lacrosse teams. Whether that then also benefits other teams is something that we'll always keep looking at and thinking about, so that at the end of this, what we want to be able to say is that we did it the right way and we are at least competitive in the top half of the Big Ten.”

On competitive facilities...

With the multisport 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. 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. 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. I don't mind the design process taking a little bit more time because the rush to get something in the ground, if it's the wrong thing, then shame on us. That's not where anybody is. Everybody wants to do this the right way. Everybody feels this moment right now for Rutgers. We're going to do this. We want to get it done, but we're going to take our time and make sure it's done the right way and we are at the top of the Big Ten in terms of the quality of that facility.”

On the response from the public...

Part of it’s been what we’ve done. I’ve said this building has to get started. In terms of the outreach that we’ve started, we’ve been actually talking with a lot of the people that we knew who would have an interest in supporting that facility. Throughout the summer we’ll be reaching out to people who we know are very interested in supporting our lacrosse programs, our soccer programs and our football program obviously as well. I wish I had twice the size staff because the response that we are getting, if we had twice as many people, we could be out there talking to twice as many people. We’ll build that, too, as we move along. We’ll be talking to quite a few people who are really excited about how lacrosse finished this year, really excited about where our soccer programs are headed. So through the summer and into the fall we can start to talk about that with those people. Hopefully by September or October, I’m giving you another update to announced we’re in design phase now on lacrosse and soccer.”

On a sense of urgency for basketball...

Absolutely. That is both a sense of optimism and a sense of urgency on their part. They know we are now in the Big Ten. They see how we do compete. Across many of our programs we are very competitive. We can win in the Big Ten. That sort of knowledge coupled with, hey if we actually do put these resources to the benefit of our coaches, we’ll see what happens at that point. Sense of optimism, sense of urgency, let’s just get this done. Let’s keep moving.”

On maintaining relationships with big donors during turnover and turmoil...

Transitions are always hard. You develop relationships with people and then there is transition and those can be hard moments. But with all of those people, they care about individuals. They care about the leadership. They are excited about our new leadership in both football and men’s basketball. They are excited about the possibility of Rutgers athletics. And they’ve seen it. These are folks who have made significant investments in other things, both not-for-profits and for-profits. They know what the impact can be of their giving. They care about Rutgers. That’s what has come through. With all those folks, I didn’t have to put a number in front of them. This was a time where they wanted to reach. That’s really what I’ve sort of asked all along. This is our time to reach for Rutgers University. They do that also not just because they understand the importance of their commitment to what we’re doing, but they want to inspire others to do the same thing. That’s a big piece of this. They know at as leaders of that type, as leaders who have been affiliated with Rutgers – some for many, many years, some for a shorter period of time – that if they step up now it can inspire others to say if they did it, I can do it. That’s from the leadership level of gift to the smallest gift. That’s where the $10 gift is incredibly important. We need the large gifts, but thankfully they are happy with my leadership and what I’m trying to do. They care about Rutgers University. Person after person sees this as a pivotal time for us. I want to say thank you again to them. We are very lucky we have them. There are a number of other people who I will try to be sitting with who I know are equally passionate about Rutgers and have also been committed around Rutgers for a long time. I wish I could be five people and getting as many places as I could right now. These are great conversations. There are frustrations. No question. When people see some of the stories that have happened in the past, but I think everybody is really ready to put that behind them.”

Are you ahead of schedule?

I didn’t have a timetable because I was still at that time maybe only five or six weeks on the job and while I had met many Rutgers folks and heard their passion and interest in seeing Rutgers be successful, 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. 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.”

On a timeline for basketball indoor facility...

That’s probably a question for the architects and the construction people. I don’t want it rushed. I know of these facilities it typically takes about two years to build them. I don’t know if that’s the right timeline. As soon as we finish with the initial design phase, then you get into a pretty standard construction timeline and we’ll be able to put that out there as soon as we have that engineering work. Obviously the construction documents – you have to go out to bid, you have to see what the responses are, you have to see who you want to put that building up. But from the time you go in the ground until the time you open the doors, I think it typically takes about two years.”

Could a high school recruit play there?

A high school basketball recruit now will practice in that facility.”

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