Rutgers football does not have much without its fan base and both athletic director Pat Hobbs and head coach Chris Ash put a stronger priority on them in the offseason.
Fans saw limited football access during spring camp. Rutgers got back to basics this week with a training-camp announcement from Chicago.
“In the end, it comes all down to your fans,” Hobbs said. “They pay for the tickets. They're the ones that provide financial support. We need to make sure that we're always showing our appreciation to our fans.”
Rutgers announced its football fan appreciation day during the final hours of Big Ten Media Day. The students received their look at the team during spring, but this is the first interactive opportunity for the open public since the offseason coaching change.
Rutgers traditionally offered autographs and interaction at the end of its spring game, but that did not happen April 23 because of the television timeslot for the scrimmage.
“We didn't have an opportunity because the spring game was on BTN and it was a late game, so we didn't have an opportunity to have our athletes out there in ways where they could sign autographs and do things that they've typically done with our fans in the past,” Hobbs said. “We wanted to make sure that we had an opportunity to do that.”
The event serves as a pregame tailgate for the Rutgers women's soccer team. One of the program's most electrifying teams of the 2015-16 school year, coach Mike O'Neill welcomes all fan-fest attendees for free to their match against Providence.
Fans should get used to interactive opportunities under new management.
“We're going to try to look at other opportunities to do that both throughout the season and throughout the post-season but it will be a real nice day in August when we do [Fan Appreciation Day],” Hobbs said.