PISCATAWAY, N.J. – As the Big East was being picked apart, Rutgers was looking for a way out and a new place to show off a football program that has been resurrected in the past decade.
Not only did Rutgers find that escape hatch, the Scarlet Knights also ended up in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in college sports.
Rutgers joined the Big Ten on Tuesday, cashing in on the school’s investment in a football team that only 10 years ago seemed incapable of competing at the highest level.
The move follows Maryland’s announcement a day earlier that it was heading to the Big Ten in 2014. The additions give the Big Ten 14 schools and a presence in lucrative East Coast markets.
Rutgers announced its decision at a campus news conference attended by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, Rutgers President Robert Barchi and athletic director Tim Pernetti.
The Big Ten is really where Rutgers belongs, Barchi said. This is not just a good fit for us athletically, it’s a good fit for us academically and as an institution.
Rutgers left its entry date ambiguous, though clearly the Big Ten and the school would like it to line up with Maryland.
The Big East requires 27 months’ notification for departing members. The Scarlet Knights will have to negotiate a deal with the Big East to leave early, the way Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia have done.
Whenever Rutgers enters the Big Ten, it will be the culmination of one of the most remarkable turnarounds in college sports.
In 2002, the Scarlet Knights football team went 1-11 under second-year coach Greg Schiano.
Rutgers has since gone to a bowl six of the last seven years.
Schiano left for the NFL last year, and Rutgers hired longtime assistant Kyle Flood, who has the Scarlet Knights poised to take make another big step.
No. 21 Rutgers (9-1) is in position to win its first Big East championship and go to a BCS game for the first time.
In the Big Ten, the revenue Rutgers receives from the league’s television and media deals should triple in the short term and could be even more than that in years to come.
The Big Ten reportedly paid its members about $24 million last year, though new members generally do not get a full share of revenue immediately. The Big East’s payout to football members last year was $6 million.
In exchange, the Big Ten gets a member in the largest media market in the country, with Rutgers and Maryland as north and south bookends.
You know, it was a factor, Delany said, referring to the New York television market. I think it’s been a factor that’s been a little overplayed to be honest with you.