Rutgers athletics raises $100 M. in donations in 'R Big Ten Build' initiative
Rutgers Athletics announced that it has accomplished its goal of raising $100 million toward the R Big Ten Build, a fundraising campaign for athletics facilities, according to an Athletics press release. The initiative, which began in January 2016, has had 4,000 supporters and will support approximately 650 student athletes.
Football coach Chris Ash and men’s basketball coach Steve Pikiell both provided donations of an undisclosed amount to push the fundraiser over its goal, according to the release.
“It’s only fitting that coaches Ash and Pikiell put us over the top, as it reflects our shared commitment to create an optimal student-athlete experience,” said director of Athletics Pat Hobbs in the release. “We are exceptionally grateful for their support and for the many who invested in our future. We are just beginning to realize our potential.”
The campaign was kick-started by $25 million in tax credits under an Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant from the New Jersey state government, according to the release.
The largest such donation was $15 million for the Gary and Barbara Rodkin Academic Success Center by the namesake benefactors, according to the release. The center will serve all student athlete needs and provide a range of resources, including academic advising, learning specialists, 1-on-1 and group tutoring, as well as housing soccer, lacrosse and administration. It is set to have an opening ceremony this Saturday.
The Rodkin contributions came after donations from Board of Governors member and Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown and his wife Anna, noted real estate developer Steven Plofker and makeup mogul Bobbi Brown, and business leaders and philanthropists Jeff and Amy Towers, according to the release.
“As we continue to build and relentlessly pursue excellence, we are so grateful for the many Rutgers supporters and R Fund members who have answered the call and helped to transform the academic and athletic experience for current and future student athletes,” said Carly Northup, senior associate athletic director of Development, in the release.
Athletics also plans on opening the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center, a 307,000-square-foot, four-story facility and parking deck to create a comprehensive sports medicine program for University athletes, students and communities throughout New Jersey, in addition to being a practice facility for men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling and gymnastics. The Brown Family Locker Room, set to go in the Marco Battaglia Football Practice Complex for fall training camp, was from a $4 million donation by the Brown family, according to the release.
The Daily Targum reported that Athletics ran a $47.4 million deficit in a $99.2 million budget last year. University President Robert L. Barchi said to the Targum in February that it is unacceptable that academics have been budgetarily supplementing athletics. Once Rutgers is a full-equity partner in the Big Ten in 2020, the return on the investment will balance out the past budget restraints.
“And we will be in a situation where Athletics is on a ship in its own bottom, basically,” Barchi said. “Hopefully, it won’t be too many years before there is a surplus from Athletics that goes back into academics. As it does in many, not all, academic peers.”