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Former Rutgers AD Bob Mulcahy passes away at 85

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His hiring of Greg Schiano and expansion of the stadium helped set the groundwork for the Scarlet Knights to join the Big Ten

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 15 Indiana at Rutgers Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Former Rutgers Athletic Director Bob Mulcahy died late Monday night on February 7. He was 85 years old.

Mulcahy was the AD at Rutgers from 1998 to 2009, taking over a year after the Scarlet Knights went 0-11 in football and 14-15 in men’s basketball. Mulcahy took over after being the chief executive officer of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

The face of Rutgers move to chase big time football, Mulcahy’s most key move was the successful hiring of Greg Schiano after firing Terry Shea in 2000. He notably chased Jay Wright to be the next Rutgers basketball coach in the same year, but ultimately ended up with Gary Waters, who took the Scarlet Knights to the NIT three times (2002, 2004, 2006), including the championship game in 2004. Mulcahy also hired Fred Hill in 2006.

Schiano and Mulcahy worked hand in hand to build the football program to prominence, finally breaking through to the school’s first Bowl game in 27 years, when the 2005 team made it to the Insight Bowl. The football program had a banner year the following season, beating #3 Louisville on a November Thursday night and achieved the highest national ranking in school history. The team won the school’s first ever bowl game that season and following the Texas Bowl victory finished the season ranked No. 12 in the final AP Poll.

Between the rise and success of the football program under Schiano and Mulcahy being instrumental in expanding the football stadium, they are looked at as two key factors in the Scarlet Knights ultimately joining the Big Ten as conference realignment hovered over the sport.

His efforts to increase the athletics department’s endowment and improve the television coverage for its football and basketball programs was notable as well. He also hired former high school coach Scott Goodale to lead the wrestling program.

Mulcahy could be seen on the sidelines or in the front row at the RAC swearing a scarlet blazer and shaking hands with the crowd. Even after he left the position in 2008, he continued to support Rutgers and published a book about his experiences as athletic director, titled An Athletice Directors Story and the Future of College Sports in America.

“The entire Rutgers community is saddened to hear the news of Bob Mulcahy’s passing,” said Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs. “Bob was an extraordinary man who led an extraordinary life. He was one of those rare individuals who balanced being a great husband, father and grandfather, with being a man of public service and a friend to many. I know how much Rutgers meant to Bob and his family and how much his legacy means to the history of our athletic department. His work and leadership were integral to Rutgers Athletics being in a position to join the Big Ten. We build on the foundation he laid for us. I extend my deepest condolences to Bob’s family and friends. He left an indelible mark on countless coaches and student-athletes and many more. Bob will truly be missed by all.”

“In Bob’s passing, Rutgers and New Jersey lost one of its truly faithful servants,” said head football coach Greg Schiano. “Personally, I lost a mentor, a role model, and a true friend. The partnership we had at Rutgers was uncommon and something we both valued greatly. However, what Bob valued most dearly was his family. You are his legacy.”

He was inducted into the Rutgers Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017 and into the the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2020. A key figure in Rutgers history, Mulcahy will be remembered fondly and missed here on the banks.

Statement on behalf of the Mulcahy Family:

Today our family lost our patriarch, mentor, and friend. It is with profound sadness we announce the passing of Robert E. Mulcahy III. He was devoted to public service, both professionally and personally, and his legacy will live on through the countless people whose lives he touched with his counsel, mentoring, and friendship. While he achieved many incredible milestones and accomplishments during his tenure as the Director of Athletics of Rutgers University, or as the CEO of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, or as Chief of Staff to Governor Brendan Byrne his greatest accomplishment was as a husband, father, and grandfather.

We have been blessed to have him as our family leader and we will take forward the many great examples he set for us. While he was an incredible Dad/Grandfather he was an even better friend to all of us. He was a man of incredible integrity and faith who believed that you should always do the right thing in life. He lived that each and every day. While our hearts are heavy, we are comforted knowing Dad is reunited with the love of his life, his wife of 61 years, our mother Terry and grandmother Mimi. We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love, support, and kindness. Now, as a family we will carry on Dad’s legacy and do, as he would tell us… “Be peaceful and keep smiling.”