Dear Scarlet Knight Fans,
The first half of the academic year is nearing a close and it has been a busy and productive semester in the classroom and on the fields of play for our Scarlet Knights. Our student-athletes, coaches, support staff and administration continue to do an outstanding job managing their academic, athletic and community responsibilities with a constant focus on our mission of earning degrees, becoming leaders, and winning championships.
In the classroom, the performance of our student-athletes is picking up where it left off last year. Once again, all 24 of our intercollegiate teams posted strong Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores as measured by the NCAA to gauge progress toward graduation. Six of our programs (up from four) recorded perfect scores of 1000, and our football program once again delivered with the nation’s second-best APR in all of college football. Rutgers Football has accomplished a top-five finish in every year since the inception of the APR.
The Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of Rutgers’ student-athletes also sets the bar at 86%, the highest rate for our Scarlet Knights since the GSR has been measured in collegiate athletics, and well above the national average of 80%. Lastly, the BIG EAST All-Academic Team in 2010-11 was announced with more than 200 Scarlet Knights earning a spot. Our student-athletes have achieved a department-wide GPA equal to that of the entire New Brunswick/Piscataway student population at Rutgers and continue to compete in the classroom at a high level.
We continue to see our student-athletes recognized and rewarded for their academic achievement including most recently Amy Zhang, the captain of our women’s tennis team in 2010-11, and winner of a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Amy was one of 90 students, from 29 countries to be selected and rewarded for her work as a leading computer science major. By the way, she concluded her career on the court with a home record of 28-0.
The Rutgers Leadership Academy and Life Skills program continues to be exclusively funded by private donations and delivering an experience for our student-athletes that will benefit them in everything they do at Rutgers and in life. Each of our sports programs participate in community reading programs, fundraising events for a variety of causes, and came out in force for our second annual Rutgers Athletics Day of Service at Elijah’s Promise in downtown New Brunswick.
The fall season saw some terrific highlights on the fields of play including our men’s soccer program, under second-year head coach Dan Donigan, making a run at the BIG EAST Red Division Championship, and advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship with wins over Colgate and Boston College in dramatic fashion on penalty kicks. Freshman golfer Kortnie Maxoutopoulis delivered wins in her first two tournaments as a Scarlet Knight at the Bison and Rutgers Invitational, and sophomore Brianna Deming captured the title at the Metropolitan Cross Country Championships in New York.
To round out the fall season, our football program under head coach Greg Schiano finished the year 8-4 capped by back-to-back conference victories over Syracuse and Pittsburgh, an overtime thriller over USF, and a dominant victory over Cincinnati on Senior Day. We witnessed Eric LeGrand leading our team onto the snowy field to take on West Virginia, a stingy hard-hitting defense, and big plays all-around. Junior linebacker Khaseem Greene was named BIG EAST Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year, and seven more Scarlet Knights made the All-BIG EAST team led by junior wide receiver and first-team selection Mohamed Sanu, who shattered the BIG EAST and Rutgers single-season record with 109 receptions.
On December 4, we accepted an invitation to play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Iowa State out of the Big 12 Conference, and hosted by our great friends and partners at the New York Yankees. This is our sixth bowl appearance in seven seasons and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl provides the greatest access for our fans to the post-season of any game we have participated in and we are ready to pack the place and make it a home game. Together we can turn Yankee Stadium into a true home field advantage.
Basketball is underway at the RAC following two nationally-ranked recruiting classes for the women and the men that have resulted in an exciting brand on the floor for both of our teams. Hall of Fame Coach C. Vivian Stringer and our women’s basketball program are off to a strong start, ranked 10th in the nation and going strong at 10-1. Second-year head coach Mike Rice has added new faces to the same hard-nosed style of basketball that got everyone’s attention in 2010. Our No. 16 wrestling program is building upon a top-10 finish in 2010-11 and is off to an encouraging start at 3-1. Women’s Swimming and Diving has come off the blocks in impressive fashion this fall and is making national noise under second-year head coach Phil Spiniello. It will be an exciting winter “On the Banks”.
The business of collegiate athletics has never been more exciting and challenging. Whether it be conference realignment, proposed changes to the BCS, landmark TV and media agreements, or new NCAA legislation, being an Athletic Director is more like playing middle-linebacker where keeping your head on a swivel has never been more important. Our goal from day one has always been to provide an excellent environment of first-class resources, support and people that will translate to the greatest experience possible for our student-athletes.
Soon after coming to Rutgers as Director of Athletics, we set out on a mission to invest and grow our business responsibly while scrutinizing expenses, and creating new revenue streams toward the goal of running a self-sustaining operation. While this won’t happen overnight, we are taking significant steps in the process.
Our 2010-11 budget for Intercollegiate Athletics was forecast at approximately $61 million in expenses and we concluded the year at $59.0 million. In 2011-12, our budget is forecast at $58.2 million. Through our diligent management of the finances we continue to provide a first-class academic, athletic, and life skills support system for our student-athletes as we stay focused on the mission of their academic, athletic, and social development.
Our blueprint to reduce the University investment in Athletics is beginning to take shape. Men’s basketball and our football program continue to give us the greatest ability to generate the most significant revenues. Our investment in football has generated not only more than $100,000,000 in revenues over the last six years, but invaluable positive branding and exposure for our great University. This is in line with our commitment to run a clean program, high on integrity and focused on the balance between academics and athletics. Football generates approximately 85% of our ticket sales revenue (approximately $30,000,000 in the last three years). Coupled with men’s basketball, these two programs generate 95% of all ticket revenues to Athletics.
Football continues to generate value and revenue in many other ways including 67% of all donations to Athletics, and more than $5,000,000 per year in television revenue, which we expect to increase significantly upon our next league television contract. In 2009-10, our football program and men’s basketball program were self-sustaining operations.
In 2010-11, we moved our focus to new revenue and reached two outstanding naming rights agreements to brand our most visible assets in our football program, the Audi Rutgers Club, and High Point Solutions Stadium. These agreements will generate more than $10,000,000 in revenue over the next eight years to support our business and we continue to pursue additional naming opportunities at the RAC and other facilities. In 2011-12, we are again pushing ahead with an aggressive strategy to generate new revenues in corporate sponsorship, concessions, licensing, and experiences. We have also reduced the University investment in Athletics in the current fiscal year by $1,000,000 from a year ago. University investment in Athletics is common across the country and critical in the mission to provide the experience of 21 Olympic sports at Rutgers. Last year, over 90% of University Support dollars and 100% of mandatory student fees were allocated to our women’s basketball and Olympic sports programs.
In 2011-12, our business is growing most clearly illustrated by ticket sales revenues exceeding our forecast in football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. While we are growing revenues, we are spending responsibly in this difficult climate. We are focused on creating new inventory at Rutgers to provide an awesome game-day experience, premium amenities for our fans, and top-notch facilities where our student-athletes will study, train and compete. Our planned “Renaissance of the RAC” is the most critical athletics facilities project on our plate right now. The RAC will be home to 20 of our 24 sports programs at Rutgers and we need your private support to make this project a reality. Private contributions will support practice facilities, academic support centers, strength training and treatment facilities, and life skills programs. We will also grow our business with club and premium seating and amenities in the basketball game arena that will rival the best in the business. This will be an important long-term investment, similar to the expansion of High Point Solutions Stadium, which will position us to capitalize on the growing success of our programs while constantly enhancing the experience for our fans. We will invest to grow new revenues, and these new revenues will provide to Rutgers forever.
Rutgers University continues to make an investment in Athletics, which has and will continue to pay visible dividends for our student-athletes, our fans and the University community. The University investment in Athletics which continues to be approximately 1% of the overall University budget has returned hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, positive branding, exposure, and visibility for our great University. Our Athletics program is being run high on integrity and accountability with a constant focus on winning the right way. These things, coupled with our AAU status, powerful academic and research profile, world-class faculty and students and proven delivery of viewership in the nation’s top television market makes Rutgers a force to be reckoned with.
Athletics is a big window into Rutgers University with many of our programs competing on national television, showcasing our fine institution on a regular basis. In a state like New Jersey, there are many agendas and criticisms, but one thing is for certain. . You see the cars with the magnets, you see the kids with the t-shirts and hats, you see the in every direction on game-day in a sea of scarlet. The is a true unifying factor in the state of New Jersey and it always will be. We take pride in our role that creates this positive visibility for this great University to generate even more interest, applications and enrollment. At Rutgers, we are competing for and representing everyone in this great university, the state of New Jersey and all of our alumni and supporters worldwide.
We truly appreciate you, our loyal and growing group of supporters and fans for all that you do. Together we’ve invested our time, our emotions, and our resources in Rutgers and like any great team we will stick together through it all. We want you to know that in every decision we make, we are focused on protecting and enhancing Rutgers University and providing you all a program that you can be proud of on and off the field.
I look forward to seeing you all at the RAC for an upcoming men’s and women’s basketball game, and in the Bronx on December 30 for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
Happy Holidays and GO RUTGERS!
Director of Athletics