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R Big Ten Build Officially Achieves $100 Million Dollar Goal

Steve Pikiell and Chris Ash made “significant contributions” to help push the total over the century mark

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Rutgers athletics made an historic announcement on Wednesday afternoon, as the R Big Ten Build officially surpassed the 100 million dollar goal set forth just over three years ago.

The main purpose of this fundraising effort was to greatly improve the athletic facilities at Rutgers. Moving to the Big Ten almost five years ago exposed how far behind the athletic department was compared to the rest of the conference in regard to facilities. Fortunately, when Pat Hobbs was hired as athletic director late in 2015, he made fundraising and upgrading facilities his top priority. On the way to raising 100 million dollars, he has led efforts to do just that.

The Marco Battaglia Football Practice Complex opened ahead of the 2017 season due to the $5 million gift from Jeff and Amy Towers.

Other facilities that have been built in the past three years due to the R Big Ten Build include the Fred Hill Baseball and Softball Training Complex, The Ron and Joanna Garutti Strength and Conditioning Center, The Abe Suydam Men’s Basketball Locker room, and The Harriett and Bob Druskin Strength and Conditioning Center.

There are two major projects near completion and one more about to begin.

A new Football Locker Room is currently under construction right now due to a $4 million contribution from Greg and Anna Brown. The couple has given a total of $7.5 million to the R Big Ten Build.

The RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center at Rutgers University 307,000-square-foot, four-story facility and parking deck opening this summer. It will be the main practice facility for basketball, wrestling and gymnastics, as well as the RWJBarnabas medicine program for Rutgers Athletics.

The Gary and Barbara Rodkin Academic Success Center will break ground this Saturday thanks to a record 15 million dollar donation by the Rodkins. The Center will be the new home for soccer and lacrosse teams, as well as used by all student-athletes for academic support.

Head coaches Steve Pikiell and Chris Ash both made significant contributions to the R Big Ten Build to push the total amount raised over the 100 million dollar goal.

From the Rutgers press release, Hobbs had this to say about the achievement:

“It’s only fitting that coaches Ash and Pikiell put us over the top, as it reflects our shared commitment to create an optimal student-athlete experience. We are exceptionally grateful for their support and for the many who invested in our future. We are just beginning to realize our potential. This past month, we crowned two national champions and once again set a record for Big Ten all-academic honorees. Our success will only grow as we continue to cultivate and build resources.”

Steve Pikiell added:

“The Rutgers community has been so impactful to me and my family that it only felt right to join the many others who have generously supported this vision for the future. This campaign and these facilities will positively impact every student-athlete and will provide the necessary resources allowing them to succeed academically and athletically during their time as Scarlet Knights. I am thankful to be at Rutgers and energized about the future of our program and Rutgers Athletics.”

Chris Ash made the following statement:

“We are excited to be able to make a contribution to the academic growth of our student-athletes. Their academic success is our top priority and we are committed to creating the best environment for them to work in as they pursue their degrees.”

A big thank you is owed to Senators Raymond Lesniak and Tom Kean, Jr., who created a bill to give $25 million in tax credits under an Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant. Just as important, they garnered no-partisan support for the bill that former Governor Chris Christie ultimately signed. It was a huge boost to the start of the R Big Ten Build.

This is a great achievement and shows that Rutgers Athletics is moving into a different level of commitment for all sports. It’s going to take time for the entire athletic department to get to a level that they can consistently compete in every sport within the Big Ten, there has been notable progress on the field and court this past school year, with more still possible in the next two months. In the long term more work is needed, but continued progress and ultimately, success, will occur in no small part due to the R Big Ten Build, led by Pat Hobbs, Sarah Baumgartner, their staff and the hard working people of the RFund as well. Brick by brick, Rutgers Athletics is taking a step forward.