Thanks for a solid initial response to the new “Ask R Tom” feature here on scarletknights.com. As more questions come in I’ll compile more of these mailbag-type posts.
I tried to answer as many of the questions as I could. If yours did not make the cut this time it’s probably because it was a recruiting question and I can’t – and won’t – answer those.
Thanks again and keep the questions coming.
From Ben Matlosz:
Can you provide us a year by year breakdown of total dollars and percentage of an equal share that RU will be getting as a member of the Big 10 (for example: 2014 is $9,000,000 and 40% of a fully vested Big 10 member share, 2015 is $13,000,000 and 50% of a fully vested Big 10 member share, etc.)?
Tom: The only thing that has been made public about the share Rutgers will receive going forward has come from president Dr. Robert Barchi, who has stated the school expects to receive between $9 million and $9.5 million its first year in the Big Ten. Beyond that, no numbers have been made public, though there has been plenty of media speculation. One reason for the uncertainty is that the Big Ten will get a new deal in 2017 and that contract will directly impact members’ shares.
From Aaron Franklin:
Question: A few years ago there was talk about Rutgers becoming a full Nike School in all sports. Are we still working on this plan? When will it be implemented?
Tom: Rutgers became a full Nike school in all sports when the contract was renewed a year ago.
From Barry Moraller:
Thanks for doing this. I have a couple of items:
1. Has there been any thought to changing up the food vendors for each game? I was thinking having a BBQ contest before one game, chili cook-off the next, maybe local N.J. craft brews. It might be a nice way to bring a few people in and get them excited before the game and get. N.J. eateries and others involved in the program.
2. Could you shed some light on what “unprecedented level of donations” means with regards to the priority points and parking? We saw a huge jump in the amount of points needed to get into the lots this year, and that is simply great news that I would love to hear more about.
Tom: By contract, Sodexo oversees concessions at the football stadium, and last year brought in a local eatery or two to set up shop. The athletic department has been encouraging the involvement of more local vendors with Sodexo, but there’s also an issue with placing too many food carts around the interior perimeter of the stadium. If anything changes, we’ll let you know.
As far as the unprecedented level of donations, it’s exactly that: Record giving. Last time I checked there were 2,500 first-time donors and a 92 percent renewal rate for football season tickets, meaning that everyone has had to step up their donation levels, which in turn has led to increased priority points for purchasing tickets and parking passes. The final numbers aren’t in yet regarding the percentage of the increase in donations for this year, but it will be announced when the final numbers are tabulated.
From Lou Matino:
The freshman football players just reported for summer workouts ahead of the start of training camp in August. Are these summer sessions optional or required? Do any of the upperclassmen participate at some point?
Tom: Players are allowed to participate in summer workouts as long as they are enrolled in school, so freshmen and upperclassmen often work out together during school through the summer – without coaching supervision. As for whether it’s required: One of the advantages to enrolling in the summer is the ability to work out with teammates. It’s a great head start academically and athletically.
From George Pisacano:
Any word on an assistant basketball coach? This hire seems to be taking a long time.
Tom: You should hear something official on the two new hires shortly. Eddie Jordan has said he wanted to make sure he fully explored candidates to find the right fits. He has also said he’d like to have his staff in place by early July at the latest, since the recruiting period starts July 9.
From Maureen Swanse:
I know that money is very tight right now, but does Julie have any long-range, preliminary plan to join the Big Ten Hockey Conference? Thanks so much for your time and can’t wait until July 1.
Tom: Elevating a club sport to varsity scholarship status in these difficult economic times appears to be off the table at this point. Athletic director Julie Hermann has said the school can’t consider adding or restoring sports until the athletic department is self-sufficient. That’s probably seven years away from happening.
From Jim Delyon:
How is the progress with the football stadium concourse and restroom expansion going? Also, are donations for the RAC overhaul going well, or so-so?
Tom: As of the moment most of the football stadium renovations are on schedule to be completed prior to the first home game – although the bathroom project is a two-phase project. The first phase of that has started with phase 2 continuing throughout the season.
As far as any other facility builds or upgrades, there are a variety of concepts being considered. Fundraising on that project – whatever it turns out to be – won’t start until Rutgers settles on a plan for exactly what it wants to do.
From Nick Morillo:
How much can you share of the new redesigned vision for the RAC and other facilities? I read a report that most of what we saw in the past was scrapped. Also is there any chance to upgrade the baseball facilities?
Tom: Again, there are a variety of facilities concepts being considered for a number of sports. I know this frustrates fans, but everything is conceptual at this point. The media reports you’ve read to this point are speculative. I think you will hear something shortly from Julie Hermann regarding her vision for athletic facilities.
From Chuck Haley
Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers-Camden both play their home baseball games in minor league ballparks. Why can’t Rutgers-New Brunswick play home games at Somerset Patriots stadium?
Tom: A couple of things are at work here, Chuck. There’s the issue of giving up homefield advantage and then the question of how cost effective it is to move games to the Somerset Patriots’ stadium. That’s not to say Rutgers won’t ever do that. Joe Litterio’s squad did play Fordham in Lakewood’s minor league ballpark last year and there is the possibility of Rutgers playing Seton Hall at the Somerset Patriots’ stadium this year. You should also know that Rutgers-Newark and Rutgers-Camden practice in the minor league parks they play in. That makes it more of a home for them.
From Rick Haelig:
Longtime listener, first time caller. Love the show. Returning to Rutgers after nearly 40 years in the “private sector,” what has stood out to you about the areas in which the Rutgers Athletic Department has either improved since the arrival of a Jersey outsider like Julie Hermann, or what is still lagging dramatically behind what you would expect to find in a Big Ten Athletic Department, whether it’s in the field of communications, facilities, staffing, goal-setting, mission, etc.?
Tom: I’ve been impressed by the passion and dedication – and professionalism – of the people who work at Rutgers. Those are traits that are easier to come by in athletic programs that are perennial winners. But Rutgers people have a unique grit and determination despite the Sisyphus-like conditions at times. I also think Julie Hermann has brought in a fresh “outsider’s” perspective that was needed – in addition to a track record of successful program building. The facilities need to be upgraded, and eventually will be, but the athletic personnel and the attitude here are definitely Big Ten ready.