Rutgers' move to Big Ten pays bills but nothing else

Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE

Rutgers announced its move to the Big Ten Conference Tuesday, a change that will pay off in dollar amounts but not in wins according to SB Nation New York's Jared Smith.

At 2 p.m. Tuesday, Rutgers University announced its departure from the Big East Conference for the Big Ten Conference, and the second domino in this latest round of conference realignment fell.

The next step in the process is for the Atlantic Coast Conference, and possibly the Big East, to fill the voids of Rutgers and The University of Maryland, which announced its jump to the Big Ten on Monday.

On paper, the decision by Maryland and Rutgers is fiscally smart; however, the reality is the Scarlet Knights, led by athletic director Tim Pernetti, are not making the "winning" move.

For me, that's the saddest part of this latest chapter in conference realignment.

Business wise, it's very hard to argue against becoming a member of the Big Ten. According to multiple reports Monday, the difference between Big East television money and Big Ten television money is approximately $18 million a year. That amount is projected to increase each year until the conference's latest TV contracts expires. At that time, it will go up even higher.

That amount of money disparity was enough for Maryland to say goodbye to the ACC, even though, it could face paying an astonishing $50 million exit fee, which was unanimously passed by ACC presidents less than a year ago and was expected to unite the league for years to come.

Rutgers will pay less of an exit fee ($10 million), however, the idea of spending that much money to make more money is hard to wrap your head around.

A little more than a year ago, the Syracuse Orange and Pittsburgh Panthers athletic departments made the same decision, as both bolted to the ACC to kick start the conference realignment circus.

At the time, the Orange and Panthers were criticized for being greedy and disloyal to a conference it had been partners with for over three decades.

Now, Rutgers and Maryland are being credited for adjusting to the times and doing what's right for their athletic departments.

Yet, in reality, Rutgers is being used as a sacrificial pawn in a very expensive game of TV market chess.

Yes, the Rutgers football program is close to, and probably will, locking up its first ever Big East crown and advancing onto a BCS bowl game. Seemingly, the future for the Scarlet Knights is bright under first-year head coach Kyle Flood.

Though, this was the same feeling about the program four years ago under the leadership of head coach Greg Schiano, who's arguably the architect of this current Rutgers team. So, despite its current success there's no proof this Golden Age will continue, especially now since the program is going to be playing against Big Ten powerhouses like the Ohio St. Buckeyes and Wisconsin Badgers on an annual basis.

Sure, Rutgers' recruiting could improve with this move, but the question is: will it improve enough to yearly complete with other division foes like the Penn St. Nittany Lions, already a geographical recruiting rival that wasn't setback as far back as many had expected, Indiana Hoosiers and Purdue Boilermakers?

Flood and company could, but I am skeptical - as I am sure other Big Ten football programs are, however, they will all gladly take a conference "W" each season.

Understanding this move was many made because of football, I'd also like to mention the impact on other sports, especially the men's basketball program which seemingly is always in an uphill battle.

With the departures of Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia, along with the additions of other sub-par programs like SMU Mustangs, Houston Cougars and Central Florida Knights, the future of Rutgers basketball, under the leadership of head coach Mike Rice, had a shot of becoming a contender.

Now, Rice will have a harder time recruiting local NYC players, which were possibly excited about annually playing at Madison Square Garden - a plug Syracuse hoops no longer has.

Rice and Co. could use, "we're the Big Ten's New York College Team," but that just doesn't flow as well as, "we're committed to being the Big East's New York College Team." That slogan can now only be used by Steve Lavin and the St. John's Red Storm, which is way ahead of the Scarlet Knights on the recruiting trail.

In conclusion, this move by Rutgers could be what's best for the university in the short term and overall financially, but I am not buying its great for the program in terms of wins for the athletic department - and correct me if I am wrong, but isn't that the whole purpose of being a college athlete?

I am not dumb, I understand college sports is just as much as a business as professional sports. That's why the BCS and the current bowl system has stuck around for as long as it has; the same could be said about why the NCAA and television networks are able to make billions of dollars off college athletes that will never see a dime of the revenue.

I get why Rutgers is making this move, money talks, especially when your athletic department is losing money at a scary rate (about $26.8 millon per year), and it truly is a honor to call yourself a Big Ten member.

But I am sorry, you will never sell me that this will help Rutgers win. It just another way to pay the bills and fill the pockets of those in charge.

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