Pick a moment, any moment, in the history of Rutgers University athletics: The trips to the Final Four, the nationally televised football victory over Louisville, even the entrance into the Big East.
Nothing will be as significant as July 1, the day Rutgers officially joins the Big Ten conference.
The move will introduce the Rutgers brand to a new section of the country, allow its athletic teams to compete at the highest levels and — most important of all — eventually bring a financial windfall that could turn a highly subsidized athletic department into a profitable one.
NJBIZ recently sat down with Julie Hermann, the now second-year athletic director who will guide the school in the transition.
Hermann was open about what the move will mean to the athletics teams, both good — “we can be nationally competitive in all sports” — and bad — “there are going to be some gaps (in talent level).”
And what it will mean to the bottom line — “it gives the athletic department the first opportunity to be self-sustaining.”
The longtime Louisville assistant athletic director, who grew up in Nebraska, also was frank about her introduction to New Jersey and sometimes-contentious and controversial first year on the job (she hit her anniversary on June 16). Here’s an answer that may surprise you:
“There are three words to describe people in New Jersey: They are open, they are genuine and they are direct — and I love that,” she said. “As I’ve said many times, from where I’m from, it can be years before you find out someone didn’t like you. Here you know right away.”
With that, a few questions and answers:
NJBIZ: Let’s start with sports: how does it change the programs?
Julie Hermann: It’s game-changing. It’s Rutgers’ first chance to create a plan where we can be nationally competitive in all sports.