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November 20, 2012

Rutgers to the Big Ten

The announcement that the scarlet nation has been waiting for came this afternoon when Rutgers officially joined the Big Ten conference. A large media contingent was on hand in the Hale Center as RU has now become the fourteenth member of the Big Ten.

"I have the great pleasure to announce that earlier this afternoon the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors unanimously accepted the application of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to join the Big Ten in all sports," said Rutgers president Robert Barchi.

Rutgers joined the Big East conference in 1991 for football and 1995 for basketball. RU's exit date from the Big East has yet to be worked out although athletic director Tim Pernetti had a message for the Rutgers' faithful about today's events.

"To our fans, I'd just say thank you for having the faith in this administration. I know I've said it over and over again, that we would figure out a way to be well-positioned, and today we are well-positioned for a long, long time. It's a transformative day for Rutgers University, and transformative in so many ways. The Big Ten Conference is the ultimate academic neighborhood to live in, and we're now in that neighborhood with like-minded institutions, peer schools.

"This is not just about collaborations on the fields of play. This is about collaboration at every level, the perspective the Big Ten institutions have, the balance between academics and athletics, proving over decades and decades that athletics at the highest level and academics at the highest level can coexist. It's the perfect place for Rutgers."

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, a New Jersey native, offered Rutgers support from the Big Ten.

"Our people are really excited about it," he said. "We're not asking that New Jersey move to the Midwest, we're going to move to the East, so that you can be ourselves, we can be ourselves, and together join a partnership, so that both partners enhance each other."

Many moves were in play over the past week as reports surfaced almost hourly of the latest news regarding Rutgers' move to the Big Ten.

"I would tell you that Jim and I had this conversation over the weekend, that the minute the speculation started to reach a fevered pitch, we started to see it," Pernetti said. "I started to get phone calls from a variety of different people in our development operation. I would tell you that the poor people in the ticket office right now are probably the hardest working people in the athletic department. But there is an incredible amount of grass-roots sports right now for this move as it relates to the benefits of athletics. I'm hearing stories out of the ticket office that hundreds of new deposits on football season tickets for next year and basketball season ticket holders are already renewing and looking forward to following it. We're already starting to see that."

However, keeping things quiet was no easy task for Pernetti.

"It's tough. It really is. I think as you witnessed in the last 72 hours, it's definitely not easy," Pernetti said. "I will also tell you Jim [Delany] and I had a running joke that we're both Jersey guys and Jersey guys know how to keep things under wraps. It was great because our people did a great job. It wasn't just me. It was our president, my CFO, legal council, our sports information people. There were a lot of people involved in this. It was way too important a decision for the university to be shared with anybody else. That's the thing I'm proudest of, that I have a great team of people here."

Now that the news is official, Pernetti and company along with the rest of the scarlet nation can look forward to a future in a very prestigious conference.

"For athletics, the Big Ten Conference is the model," Pernetti said. "It's the ultimate, it's ahead of the curve and it's set the bar in so many areas. What this means for us is it means stability in an unstable time. It's secured our future as an athletics program and a university."

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