Gov. Christie Ready To Help Troubled Rutgers University Athletic Department

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gov. Chris Christie has told Rutgers University officials he’s ready to help the athletic department respond to the string of defections that have weakened the prestige of Big East Conference and threatened the future of the state university’s $58 million sports program.

Last week, West Virginia joined Pittsburgh and Syracuse in announcing they were leaving the Big East Conference for more lucrative pastures. Because the abrupt departures tarnish the competitive luster of the Big East big television contracts and other deals Rutgers relied upon when deciding to pump millions into its football program may be hard to come by in the future.

Athletic directors and presidents of Big East colleges are expected to meet today in Philadelphia to talk about how to expand and which teams to invite to a reconfigured conference.

Privately, Rutgers officials say they would like to follow the lead of the departing colleges instead of being part of a re-configured Big East conference. The Big 10 and the Atlantic Coast Conference remain the most viable options, but Rutgers would likely jump at the first good offer from a major conference with automatic bowl championship eligibility, Rutgers sources said.

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