Pernetti appointed next athletic director
NEWARK — The University Board of Governors unanimously appointed Tim Pernetti yesterday as the youngest intercollegiate athletic director in the Big East Conference.
Pernetti, 38, was executive vice president of CBS. He will begin his tenure on April 1 and report directly to University President Richard L. McCormick, who gave his full recommendation of appointment to the board.
"[He has a] deep knowledge of intercollegiate sports, a great familiarity with New Jersey and Rutgers, and an intense passion of loyalty to this institution," McCormick said. "He is ready to work with our coaches and athletic support. He will further the tradition of excellence established by our student athletes on the field and in the classroom."
Pernetti said he will receive a smaller salary from the University than from his former position at CBS. His yearly gross will likely total $472,000, which will be split between $410,000 in salary, $50,000 in an annual performance bonus and $12,000 for a car.
As an alumnus and former University student-athlete, Pernetti said his heart was near and dear to Rutgers, regardless of a pay cut.
"This job is really important to me because of how I feel about Rutgers and how I feel about the opportunity — frankly, how I feel about what it can be moving forward," he said.
Pernetti will head 212 employees and 24 men's and women's intercollegiate teams, which are comprised of approximately 600 undergraduate athletes, according to a University Media Relations press release. He will also be responsible for $56 million, more than 3 percent of the University's $1.8 billion budget.
"We intend to grow," he said. "I don't intend to come in and slash and burn. I intend to come in and raise and earn."
Former Athletic Director Robert E. Mulcahy was fired last December for the misuse and superfluous spending of the annual budget, but Pernetti said his previous experience in business would lead him away from such decisions.
"Rutgers is a public institution. A public institution needs to deliver up-front transparency in the communication of information," he said. "Today is about moving forward. I looked [the board] in the eye this morning and said there will be financial accountability, and I will be able to explain why and explain where [the money was spent] … [intercollegiate athletics] will grow in a responsible manner, and financial responsibility will be on the top of my priority list everyday that I am in that office."
Although he has had no prior experience as an administrator, Pernetti said his experience in other fields would support him in this position.
He said from being a student-athlete and his relationships with University athletics to his knowledge of the media and his experience with fundraising would make him an innovative leader.
"There are a lot of skills that I possess that are transferable," he said. "I plan to surround myself with the right people. I'm never going to claim to be an expert … but this is a great new challenge for me."
Pernetti said he plans to approach this administrative challenge with communication.
"I'm going into this with my eyes wide open … The things I didn't know [upon arriving here], I asked for frank and honest answers," he said. "There are a lot of things I still need to know, a lot I still need to learn, but that's the great thing about opportunities."
McCormick supported Pernetti entirely, despite his lack of experience.
"I'm thoroughly confident that the combination of his athletics background, his passion for Rutgers and his belief in those business practices in the accompaniment of transparency will provide exactly the breakthrough we need at Rutgers in athletics," McCormick said.
The dynamic of the student-athlete at the University is a source of pride Pernetti said he has carried his whole life.
A recent Academic Progress Report released by the National Collegiate Athletic Association concluded that seven of the 24 teams scored in the top 20 percent of other national Division I programs in respective sports, according to the release. In addition, the University student-athlete graduation success rate is 15 percent above the NCAA average.
Pernetti said he intends to work closely with the Office of Undergraduate Education and the coaches to ensure student athlete educational success.
He said he will ask coaches to guarantee their commitment to winning as much as their commitment to the pursuit of education.
"We want to prepare everybody for what is next because frankly it is a very small fraction that will end up as professional athletes," he said.
Part of his goal as athletic director will be to integrate the school into a family, Pernetti said.
With his background in TV and radio, the athletic director said he intends to produce an online media network that will cover the 24 teams extensively. He said athletics has the greatest potential to bring positive media coverage to the University and to take advantage of that potential would unite the University in a national spotlight.
"The identity of the University has always been a big question mark," he said. "In a lot of ways, one way to achieve that identity that is consistent with what people understand is to hook every side of the house in together."