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Basketball Practice Facility Closer To Reality

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Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

In case you haven't heard yet, this happened today!

Thank you, Julie Hermann.

That’s how this started. The whole facility process began because the former AD went into a Court Club meeting and essentially said that Rutgers wouldn’t be building a practice facility in five years. It may not have been her exact words—she may have been trying to inspire the donors at the meeting to give more money—but that’s how it was taken. That Rutgers was going to be inactive in the college basketball arms race. So, thanks Julie, because without that I wouldn’t be thanking the next guy.

Ahem.

Thank you, Steve Politi.

If word hadn’t gotten back to you about the meeting, you wouldn’t have written this article saying that Rutgers had surrendered the men’s basketball basketball program. This was one of the lowest moments of Eddie Jordan’s second year, and it seemed that the horizon was bleak. And, if no one had written this article—if it hadn’t come to light what the "plan" was, we couldn’t thank the next guy.

Thank you, Raymond Lesniak.

The state senator, and long time Rutgers basketball season ticket holder was empowered by the Politi news and outrage surrounding it. He got on the horn with Robert Barchi, with Julie Hermann, with anyone who would listen and got this thing off the ground. Last June the fundraising initiative started mostly because of Lesniak’s bill to help Rutgers by offering some tax credits.

But we all know about the RU Screw.  This is how the political mechanism works both at Rutgers and in New Jersey. Not with the snap of a finger, but with someone saying something that catches an ear or an eye.  And a newspaper guy writes an article and a politician takes notice.  It's all part of the landscape.  Part of the process.

It's how things are done in this state.

And so here we are. Pat Hobbs has announced that Rutgers has raised 29.3 million dollars to get this project moving. Along with the 25 million dollar tax credit, we are more than half way in completing the fundraising campaign. The RAC has air conditioning now and that’s just the start. In the next few months, ground is going to be broken on a multi-sport practice facility, with men's and women's basketball a major focus. A dedicated practice facility is probably the biggest need the men's basketball program has ever had.

Now, the practice facility is not a cure-all. But it is symbolic. Where Hermann originally made it seem like basketball would be pushed off to the side forever, now it appears Rutgers actually cared. New Athletic Director Pat Hobbs came from a basketball school, and—after firing Eddie Jordan and replacing him with Steve Pikiell—he is showing just how much he wants hoops to succeed. With the multi-sport facility moving forward, it shows that football isn’t the only game on campus.

Of course, that’s not the only albatross: We all know how bad hoops has been for 25 years. But the key is to keep taking as many obstacles out of the way as possible. New coach, air conditioning, a practice facility. Next stop is to show it on the court. But all in due time. Until then, remember what got us here.

So thanks, Mr. Lesniak. Thanks, Politi.

Thank you, Julie Hermann.

And a big time thank you to the donors. You know who you are.

And, finally, kudos to Pat Hobbs-the AD who continues to be a boon for Rutgers.  You did all the heavy lifting.  And we are impressed.