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Does Move to Expanding Big 10 Make Sense For Rutgers?

The Big 10 Conference is looking to expand, and Rutgers University is on the list of schools the conference is courting.

Speculation in Chicago is that Rutgers wants in, and would be a good fit.

There's no doubt that Rutgers would love to join, if for no other reason than the revenue gap between the Big Ten ($20 million per school) and Big East ($6.3 million). Rutgers is a giant, public institution that dominates its state (think Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota). Nearly 9 million people live in New Jersey, a fertile recruiting ground (hello, Ron Dayne and Corey Wootton that's a river's crossing to New York and Philadelphia.

Rutgers recently poured $102 million into its 52,454-seat football stadium and has a yet-to-be-financed proposal in place to go north of 70,000. It also can play occasionally at the new Jets/Giants Stadium that will seat around 82,500.

Rutgers is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities (like all 11 Big Ten schools) and its football team posts elite APR (Academic Progress Rate) numbers because coach Greg Schiano recruits willing students and insists they sit in the first three rows of class.

True, the Scarlet Knights lack the football tradition of Nebraska. Rutgers beat Princeton in the first college game ever played, in 1869, and then basically disappeared until 2006. But this decision, in Delany's words, is about the next "50-100 years" — not the past.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday, however, that such a move might actually end up costing the school's already struggling athletic department money.

The Scarlet Knights’ athletic department, which received almost half its $58.5 million in revenue last year from state subsidies and student fees, would probably earn about an extra $13.6 million a year in conference money by leaving the Big East for the Big Ten, based on current distributions.

To compete with schools such as Ohio State University, the University of Michigan and Penn State University, however, the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based school probably will have to increase spending on coaches’ salaries, recruiting and infrastructure, possibly sending it deeper into the red, sports business analysts and former coaches said.

"If you are going to compete and be successful, you better have the facilities, and that’s going to be an arms race," said former UCLA football coach Terry Donahue, now a college football analyst for Westwood One, Inc.’s radio network. "It’s the number one thing that attracts recruits."

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