We’ve seen pictures before, haven’t we?
Grand drawings with sunny skies, backpacked students sauntering, and a lovely building meant to draw in recruits and push Rutgers basketball to the next level. Lovely facilities that will put Rutgers football on par with the competition.
But, here we are again, with more drawings and another plan. Another opportunity for Rutgers to act like a university in a real athletic conference. A chance for the school to draw in some of the great talent in this state and rise above mediocrity and become great.
Robert Barchi sat at yesterday’s Board of Governors meeting and unveiled a plan for the University as a whole, including updated athletic facilities—a basketball practice facility and improvements to the Hale Center. It’s a Rutgers fan’s dream project.
And in every article written about the topic, Barchi refused to give a deadline and laid that at the feet of private donors. The men and women who are proud Rutgers alumni—it’s up to them to fund this project.
Which really means it is up to Julie Hermann to get this project funded. Barchi laid it at her feet and said, "Have at it."
This will be Hermann’s legacy. Can she live up to her long time promise about only being happy when there are cranes in the air?
Walk around Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus right now and all you see are cranes. College Avenue is getting a huge facelift with a ton of new buildings. There are cranes in the air for academics and residence life.
But there aren’t, and haven’t been, any in the air for athletics. The closest there’s been to facility upgrades under Julie’s watch has been a new scoreboard in the center of the RAC. There’s been talk of a new baseball practice facility for well over a year now, but the project continues to get pushed back. There have been a ton of rumors for athletic improvements from Julie, but they have yet to come to fruition. The RAC doesn't even have air conditioning yet.
This will be her moment.
With basketball, Julie has a head start. The practice facility will be built on top of a parking deck and Senator Ray Lesniak has promised to get a tax credit bill passed to help get the project going. There is income the school can put toward funding the building. But the whole thing won’t be funded by parking costs.
No, some big time cash has to come flowing in.
Listen, I’m ready to donate. Point me in the direction of the right fund and I will send my dollars that way. But I’m not the one who needs convincing. In fact, I don’t think it is the middle class fan that needs convincing. If they’re able, they’ll throw a few dollars toward this project. The recognize the importance.
No, it’s the corporations that need convincing. The big time check writers who’ve funded things before. Julie has to sell them on spending their money. A giant windfall has to come to Rutgers, and it has to come soon. Waiting for Rutgers to become fully vested in the Big Ten won’t work. It’s too far off. Waiting those five or six more years will only bury Rutgers in the standings.
Julie Hermann and her staff need to convince people now. Open your checkbooks, it’s time. This is her moment. The time to get past all the public relations disasters over the past two years. To get the media on her side by moving Rutgers in the right direction. It’s time to get to her to sell the vision to anyone who wants to see Rutgers succeed.
Robert Barchi gave her the plan and gave her to okay to build.
It’s up to Julie to cement her legacy as athletic director.
Make this more than just a picture.