On the Banks is highlighting the 2017 inductees into the Rutgers Athletic Hall of Fame.
Previously: Ray Lucas
Bob Mulcahy became Rutgers’ director of athletics in 1998. Terry Shea was the football coach and Kevin Bannon was leading men’s basketball. That says a great deal about what Mulcahy was inheriting.
There is no question that Bob Mulcahy had a tremendous impact on athletics. Mulcahy was charged - and I believe that was a term he used a good deal - with fixing football. And if you saw the Terry Shea era at RU, you know “fixing” was a euphemism for complete overhaul.
It was Mulcahy who hired Greg Schiano. For some fans, that action alone should be enough to get the former AD into any hall of fame he wants. And he gave Schiano broad leeway in developing the program.
Mulcahy was taking over a program - all of athletics, not just football - that had been neglected for decades. Deferred maintenance, lack of scholarship support, lack of fund raising, poor facilities. He had an enormous task ahead of him, but always keeping at the forefront the need to make football viable.
The hiring of Schiano changed the conversation for and about Rutgers. Yes, the early years were shaky, but Mulcahy believed he had the right guy to turn this thing around. I felt the same way; after hearing Schiano address alums and other supporters at several events, I thought. if this guy can’t do it, just drop football.
There were renovations at the Hale Center and upgrades for football. But money was hard to come by - it always seems to be that way at Rutgers - and there was a need to cut costs. For all the positives, Mulcahy did make one move that did not sit well with many fans and alums. In 2006 he announced that six sports - lightweight and heavyweight crew, men’s tennis, men’s swimming, men’s and women’s fencing - were being dropped from Rutgers’ athletic program.
But with the success of the football team, Mulcahy and Schiano pushed for a stadium expansion. Close in the south endzone adding about 10,000 seats and create a premium seating section. The only problem was there was, of course, money. The fundraising that was supposed to pay for it never materialized and the University ended up borrowing to pay for it. Was it worth it? In the long run, yes, because the 52,000 seat stadium helped pave the way for, ultimately, admission to the Big Ten.
To his credit, Bob Mulcahy stressed academic accountability and athletics added support systems that were the norm at other universities but non-existent, or limited, at Rutgers. It was on Mulcahy’s watch that the APR of most teams at the university improved.
For nineteen years, Mulcahy was the president and CEO of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (the Meadowlands) and his connections with sports and political power brokers was significant. He pushed to make sure the block R appeared on the floor of the NCAA games at the arena in East Rutherford.
"Bob is a Jersey guy who had a tremendous impact on Rutgers Athletics," said Director of Athletics Pat Hobbs speaking with scarletknights.com. "He navigated many challenges and positioned our state's football program for success. We look forward to celebrating this much deserved honor with Bob and his family."
And while the hiring of Schiano was the creme de la creme in hirings, Mulcahy also hired Glenn Crooks (women’s soccer) and Scott Goodale (wrestling), both of which changed the vision and future of those sports at Rutgers.
Mulcahy will join the 2004-05 men's track & field team, Quincy Douby (men's basketball), Tom Hayes (men's lacrosse), Ray Lucas (football), Shameka Marshall (women's track & field), Erin McIntyre (women's swimming) and Bob Vencak (men's lacrosse) being inducted this Saturday at halftime of the Purdue/Homecoming game.
"I'm very excited," said Mulcahy speaking with scarletknights.com. "I feel that it is recognition for the job that our team did during the decade that I served. I couldn't be more congratulatory of all the people that worked with me. It's as much their induction as it is mine. We did everything as a team."