Rutgers coach Chris Ash has first-class goals for his football program and, made official Sunday afternoon, a first-class weight room is a part of it.
Rutgers gathered a small group of donors and fans Sunday for the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony, opening the Ron and Joanna Garutti Strength and Conditioning Center.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony shows tangible results to the offseason fundraising successes of athletic director Pat Hobbs and deputy athletic director Sarah Baumgartner. Call it the first of many.
“It says everything,” Ash said. “It's easy to say 'we're going to do this, do that.' This isn't a theory of what we're trying to do. This is a testimony that we're going to get stuff done. That speaks volumes to our plan but even more to Pat Hobbs' support as athletic director because as coaches you can only do so much. You have to have the support of the administration.”
Rutgers already has a top-30 recruiting class in 2017.
Ash and staff now have another key part of the pitch in a modernized weight room that is competitive with Big Ten foes.
“You walk around here and you can tell this is going to pop for recruits,” Ash said. “It's not just a barbell thing. This is a recruiting tool also. It's going to be big time.”
The Garutti family welcomed the thank yous from both football and athletics at the ceremony, but instead turned the tables. In both a speech from the Hale Center lobby and on the side with reporters, Ron Garutti complimented the direction of the program and appealed to other donors to follow him.
“They instill a level of confidence,” Garutti said. “Pat Hobbs is an extremely bright guy. He's run large, complex organizations before. He knows what he's doing. Just look at his first two appointments in football and basketball. Sarah is a terrific fundraiser. She is very personable. She focuses on the donor. The first rule of fundraising is you find out what the donor's passion is and you try to work with them on that.”
Rutgers gathered a portion of the team, primarily game-experienced seniors, in thanks for the moment. All three Big Ten Media Day representatives spoke alongside strength and conditioning coach Kenny Parker.
“This room you're going to see, we have equipment from power-lifting, equipment from hammer strength,” Parker said. “It's like a blend. It's like a gumbo pot, I guess you could say. … You have a lot of different pieces that fit. Like a team, different states, different cities.”