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To Be Thankful: Five Years Since Rutgers Invited to the Big Ten

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On Thanksgiving, we remember the time that Rutgers’ fortunes changed forever

Rutgers Announces Move to Big Ten Conference Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Yes, it was five years ago this week, on November 20, 2012, that the Big Ten Commissioner met with Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti and announced that Rutgers would be moving to the Big Ten. Even ESPN described it “...isn’t an earthquake, but...it certainly qualifies as a shakeup...”

It was a story that had national impact, and also an impact beyond sports. It soon was apparent that this addition was very different than those done by other conferences, in that it was not done due to sports supremacy, but with a TV audience in mind.

However, the impact was not just about TV audiences. It had an impact upon academics as well. The Committee on Institutional Cooperation, now called the Big Ten Academic Alliance, would have a huge impact on the way Rutgers’ academics would receive funding, conduct research, and partner with other like-minded institutions. Just due to this connection, millions have come to the school since that fateful day in 2012.

The move to the Big Ten didn’t happen immediately. While the announcement was five years ago this week, we are less than 3.5 years into actual competition with the component schools. Rutgers became an official member on July 1, 2014, which was an exciting day as well.

Prior to that however, a lot happened. There was the Mike Rice scandal, which resulted in Athletic Director Tim Pernetti’s resignation, the hiring of Julie Hermann, which brought its own scandals related to her actions prior to being hired, as well as her mis-steps in the position. It didn’t seem to stop with our entry to the conference, either. There was the Kyle Flood scandals, which included breaking NCAA rules, Rutgers academic rules, as well as arrests of players for felonies. There was Eddie Jordan, who after being hired, Rutgers mistakenly listed on his bio that he graduated, even though he was a few credits short. To Eddie’s credit, he did eventually get his degree while coaching at Rutgers. And, of course, the eventual firings of Flood, Hermann and Jordan.

And there was the losing. There has been a lot of losing. Most Rutgers programs have, at best, been mediocre since July 2014, with some exciting exceptions. Programs like women’s soccer and wrestling have never been stronger, while men’s lacrosse and field hockey have been nationally ranked in its most recent campaigns. There were complaints along the way, wondering when we were going to get it together as a whole, even by our own writers. However, even the most biased viewer can see improvements.

Those improvements began following the hiring of Pat Hobbs in December 2015. His first two major hires have been very influential, with the addition of head coaches in football and basketball, Chris Ash and Steve Pikiell.

Be thankful, Rutgers fans. Joining the Big Ten changed the fortunes of the State University of New Jersey forever, and for the better. Yes, we are still experiencing our growing pains, yes the financial windfall has yet to happen (come on, July 1, 2020!), but the impact is already apparent in almost every area of the university. That impact goes far beyond sports, and will have an impact for generations to come.

So, on this five year anniversary, we have a lot for which we can be thankful. If you need a reminder why this is so good for Rutgers, take a moment and look at the video below, which was put out by the Big Ten upon our entrance to the conference.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Photo courtesy of Megg Sherman