By Keith Sargeant
PISCATAWAY — Shortly after midnight Tuesday, a Big Ten flag was raised high atop the football stadium, and that’s when a moment 588 days in the making finally arrived.
“I am delighted and privileged to say: RUTGERS IS B1G,” Scarlet Knights athletics director Julie Hermann wrote in an open letter to the fan base, shortly after Big Ten membership became official.
Calling July 1, 2014 “an incredibly historic day in Rutgers history,” Hermann addressed more than 3,000 fans in attendance for a celebration that included fireworks, five children’s bounce houses, a stage featuring live music, performances by the school’s cheer squad and marching band and speeches by top officials, including Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and university president Robert Barchi.
A Rutgers faculty group took an opposite view, criticizing past athletics spending.
“As of today, athletics are not self-supporting, nor is it likely that they will be for many years to come,” said Lisa Klein, a professor of materials science and engineering and member of Rutgers One, a coalition of students, unionized faculty, alumni and community members united to fight for quality higher education. “Decisions by Rutgers’ management to divert funds from our core mission to cover the deficits in athletics are hurting students who came here to get a world-class education. We are here at the ‘R Big Party’ to provide information about where the money comes from to fund athletics. We call on Rutgers’ management to get the priorities straight, and place institutional support for academics No. 1.”