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Rutgers follows Maryland to Big Ten, leaving Big East

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Rutgers University is moving to the Big Ten Conference, ending a more than two-decade affiliation with the Big East as it looks to strengthen its athletic, financial and academic standing.

One day after the University of Maryland said it would join the Park Ridge, Ill.-based league following a 59-year run as a charter member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, Rutgers, based in New Brunswick, N.J., further broadened the Big Ten’s U.S. East Coast footprint by becoming its 14th school.

The Big Ten’s television network said on its website Tuesday that it will air a 2 p.m. news conference with Rutgers President Robert Barchi, Athletic Director Tim Pernetti and Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany “to kickoff today’s announcement that Rutgers is joining the Big Ten.”

An e-mail seeking comment from Jason Baum, a spokesman for Rutgers, wasn’t immediately returned.

Rutgers, which led U.S. public schools in athletic-department spending directed from university budgets and student fees last year, will reap millions more directly from athletics with the new conference affiliation. Having approved on Monday the acquisition of a medical school as part of a restructuring of the state’s higher education system, Rutgers is joining a highly regarded research consortium consisting mostly of Big Ten universities.

Rutgers beat Princeton 6-4 in the first intercollegiate football game in 1869, and defeated Boston College in the first Big East football game in 1991. It became a conference member for all sports in 1995.

In the Big Ten, it will join Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin.

The conference, with a television network that reaches 73 million cable and satellite subscribers, paid its schools $24.6 million last year, according to the Washington Post. Big East schools took in $6 million, according to the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. The Big Ten also will renegotiate its television contract in 2017, which probably will further raise the value of the deal. With Penn State reaching the Philadelphia market, Rutgers and Maryland gives the conference a presence from New York to Washington, D.C.

Rutgers funneled $28.5 million from its university budget and student fees into sports for the fiscal year that ended in June 2011, the most among 54 U.S. public universities in the biggest football conferences, based on data compiled by Bloomberg. It was at least the second straight year that Rutgers led the list.

Pernetti reduced athletic-department spending by $4 million, or 6.3 percent, in fiscal 2011. Still, the school’s faculty council voted in March to demand cuts of $5 million in university funding of athletics by fiscal 2016.

Rutgers’s boards of governors and trustees voted yesterday to merge with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. With entry to the Big Ten, Rutgers will also gain access to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, a consortium of Big Ten schools and the University of Chicago that collaborate in research initiatives.

Rutgers’s exit from the Big East will leave 16 schools participating in most sports in the conference as of July 1, 2014, with Pittsburgh and Syracuse moving to the ACC a year earlier and Notre Dame going to the ACC for all sports except football at an undetermined date. As of July 2015, there would be 12 teams committed to Big East football.

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  • Tradition
    Doug - Unfortunately, in the current collegiate sports financial landscape, adhering to tradition will lead to irrelevance. No doubt this move is about money, but it's a move the conference must make to keep up with (or ahead) of the Joneses.
  • I Don't Like It
    Does the Big Ten care that they are making people irritated, namely me, by adding teams to the conference? What about tradition? I think it is ridiculous and is clearly just a big money grab. Where does it end? How many teams will we have in the Big 10 ultimately? Why not have one big conference with every team in the nation and call it the Big Ten? Why do we have to take in the castoffs from the east coast? I hate Rutgers and Maryland does not have much more to offer. It is completely goofy and undermines the credibility of the conference.

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