Something must be up, because Tom Luicci was suddenly breaking stories yesterday like it was going out of style. Athletic director Tim Pernetti is going full steam ahead with sorely needed facilities upgrades for basketball. It's coming at a crucial time; the men's basketball team is showing signs of life for the first time in the Hill era, and the women have been working through a rough patch as of late.
Private funding is needed to get the project jump-started, Pernetti said, with income from premium and club seating paying for the rest. That model was used in large part for the still-ongoing $102 million expansion and upgrades to Rutgers Stadium, with two donors then footing the bill for the addition of a $5 million recruiting lounge.
Pernetti said he is moving ahead on the assumption that no state assistance will be involved.
"Our football stadium is a great example," he said. "A significant piece of revenue is being generated from our club seating and premium seating. That’s an example we want to re-create in basketball. If we can do that, we can privately raise to a point where you can then count on income from premium and club seating to pay the rest of the way."
Counting on increased ticket revenue is a dicey proposition before the men start winning more games, and fundraising in general is no picnic. If anyone can get this yeoman's task accomplished though, it would be Tim Pernetti. In less than a year on the job, he's silenced all critics with keen media savvy and fundraising successes. Tim's job approval rating at the moment would have to be close to 100%, and it's astonishing how those who don't follow Rutgers haven't seemed to pick up on this burgeoning success story as of yet.
But that's not all, as there was a very, very interesting update on the soccer coaching search. It's mind-blowing that the UVA coach is interested coming off a national championship. That signifies that Rutgers soccer is a desirable job, and the athletic department is deadly serious about building a winner. Ironically, the coach is originally from Wall, representing the very pressing concern of keeping the top state talent at home. New Jersey has elite high school basketball, wrestling, soccer, and lacrosse, and is a good state for football. The Rutgers fanbase understandably has very high expectations for their athletic programs as a result. This is but one step in the ongoing process of reversing decades of neglect and mismanagement of university athletic programs.
Oh, and quick memo to John Feinstein: The NJSWA will honor Pernetti with its college good guy award at its annual banquet. Tim Pernetti: good guy, better athletic director.