EDITORIAL: Athletics can be key to improvement

New academic center for athletes could bring future success to U.

A gift of $15 million has been granted to Rutgers Athletics by Rutgers alumni Gary and Barbara Rodkin. The money, which is the largest gift in Rutgers Athletics history, will be dedicated to the construction of The Gary and Barbara Rodkin Center for Academic Success. The Center will be located on Scarlet Knight Way on Busch campus, and will act as a consolidated academic support service facility for Rutgers’ student-athletes.

In the eyes of many, too much money is funneled into Rutgers athletic programs as opposed to other, maybe more needy, departments of the institution. But, considering the fact that this enormous sum of money was a gift to Rutgers Athletics, it should obviously be used to improve its programs. Also, in light of the fact that the Athletics Department overspent their budget by $2.3 million in the 2017 fiscal year, maybe this donation will allow them to ease their own monetary burdens associated with program expansion while we wait for the money that comes along with our full membership to the Big Ten in 2021. 

In any case, though it only directly affects a relatively small part of the school, this gift has the ability to be great for not only Rutgers Athletics, but Rutgers as a whole. 

First of all, being a student-athlete is no easy task — especially a Big Ten student athlete. Division I sports are no doubt extremely demanding and require a significant amount of dedicated time, which for students in general can be difficult to find. Additionally, the vast majority of student athletes will not move on to play their sport professionally. For that reason, student athletes must be students first. This new academic center will allow for them to more easily place their studenthood in the forefront of their priorities. When student athletes do not succeed, their lack of success falls on the University. In the end, we want our student athletes to be more than “eligible to play.” We want them to be academically excellent, as with the rest of our student body. 

In the vein of academic success, this new building can, conceivably, eventually help improve our school’s overall prestige. An attractive athletic program is like a positive feedback system in that a successful outcome amplifies its future success further. For example, with the building of this academic center, prospective student athletes may be more likely to consider Rutgers because they know they will be more likely to succeed academically in addition to their athletic ventures, maybe increasing the number of student athletes who wish to attend our school — resulting in a larger total of talented athletes. Then, the larger number of talented athletes our Athletics Department has, the better our athletic programs as a whole will presumably do. It seems obvious that good athletic programs have the ability to not only draw in more and more good athletes like a magnet, but to draw in more and more students in general, because kids want to go to schools with a lot of pride in their sports teams. The more students that apply to Rutgers, the more selective our admissions office can be, and the more elite our student body can become. In addition, as Athletic Director Pat Hobbs stated in a recent Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) Town Hall meeting, athletics are a big part of the University’s image and can play a very important role in the amount of money received by alumni. 

So it seems that, generally, having an elite athletics department can only really work to our University’s advantage as a whole. Athletics can bring in both students and money, both of which are absolutely necessary for the increasing prestigiousness of Rutgers. If all goes well in the future, Rutgers Athletics can be a key to our school’s success. 


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 150th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff. 

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