By Patricia Alex, Staff Writer, The Record.
Rutgers University celebrated its official entrance into the Big Ten athletic conference Tuesday with a party at the football stadium marking the beginning of what most acknowledge will be a challenging road to Big Time sports.
And the event continued to be shadowed by the criticism of opponents who argue the move into the conference is wrong-headed and will prove costly.
However, there is concern on campus that escalating athletic department costs will outpace revenue gains as Rutgers gears up to compete with big-name opponents. The athletic department last year operated at a deficit of $47 million, and the university projects shortfalls to continue — even with new revenues — for nine years.
A group called Rutgers One, comprising faculty, students and alumni, handed out fliers outside the stadium warning that Rutgers was “robbing students, faculty and staff” in diverting money to athletics. The athletic department deficit is covered by student fees and the university’s operating budget.
“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,” said Lisa Klein, president of the Rutgers Association of University Professors-American Federation of Teachers.