September 16, 2019 | 74° F

Barchi says he weighs both sides in athletic's finances controversy

Photo by Garrett Steffe |

University President Robert L. Barchi affirms that the presence of Rutgers in the Big Ten Conference is a large factor for the University. He said the competition helps to build spirit and unify alumni, current students, faculty and staff.

University President Robert L. Barchi has heard the complaints about Rutgers Athletic’s spending, particularly the issue that the department receives more financial support from the University’s operating budget and student fees than just about any other major-level school on an annual basis, according to an article by NJ Advance Media. 

At a University that has 71,000 students, 23,000 faculty-and-staff members and more than 500,000 living alumni, he understands the juggling act between developing a competitive athletic program and remaining fiscally responsible, Barchi said, according to the article. 

He also knows that there is not going to be consensus opinions among the community on the issue, he said. 

Some want their Scarlet Knights to win no matter the cost, while others want the program — which makes up 2% of the University’s overall budget — to be revenue-positive. 

Barchi, while understanding both sides of the argument, pointed to the intangible benefits of an athletic program competing in the Big Ten, according to the article. 

“It’s important for people to understand how important academic success is for our students ... but it’s also important for people to realize the impact of Division I athletics on the University. There’s absolutely no question — whether it’s the huge amount of publicity we get in every game we play with the Big Ten or in every 2-minute commercial focused on our academics that’s aired during our football games — the presence of Rutgers in the Big Ten is a significant factor for the University,” Barchi said, according to the article. 

The Daily Targum reported earlier this week that athletics ran a $47.4 million deficit in a $99.2 million budget last year. In 2017, $33 million of athletic’s revenue sources come from the University’s non-athletic revenue sources, including $12 million in student fees. 

But Barchi remains optimistic and sees the value in athletics, according to the article.

“One of the questions I get asked is what is the impact of these programs at Rutgers. Why are you spending all this money on big-time athletics? What does it do for Rutgers? Well, I can tell you what it does for Rutgers: You look at the highest level of our successful competition on building spirit, on unifying our alumni, our students, our faculty and staff and projecting a national presence — it’s immeasurable,’’ Barchi said, according to the article. 

Brendan Brightman

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