Should the Big Ten Be Having Second Thoughts About Rutgers in Light of Scandals?
The Big Ten should not be having second thoughts as the nation watches the mess that is the Rutgers-Julie Hermann situation play out. Sure, it's ugly and been handled poorly by the university.
And, yes, Hermann, should she keep this job, is going to be an intriguing element in the conference going forward.
But that doesn't mean that true second thoughts on the Scarlet Knights are in order.
Rutgers is coming into the league, and while this escalating situation gives folks pause, in the end the conference has made the smart power move. Even with the scandal, the Scarlet Knights will do what they were brought in to do: expand the conference's sphere of influence as the arms race against the rest of the major leagues continues.
Rutgers' ineptitude at the administrative level—starting with Mike Rice and moving to the Hermann hire —is not why Jim Delany brought it into the fold. Cornering the New Jersey market and trying to push into New York City is the reason behind the expansion move. Unless the administration is going to mismanage Rutgers out of Piscataway and the entire state of New Jersey, the Big Ten's goals remains intact.
Television screens will be lit up with the Big Ten Network, cable and satellite subscribers will be forking over dollars to pay for something they may not even watch, and the cash will continue to flow for college football's richest conference.
Right now, Rutgers is a Rutgers problem. The divide among the fans is growing, but more importantly, as Steve Politi of the Star-Ledger points out, the athletic department divide is becoming its own issue. Negative press is one thing, dissent in the ranks as many question the new hire's ability to perform her job takes things to a more intense level.
Delany is wise to watch. The athletic directors in the Big Ten will be well served to keep their eyes on just how Rutgers handles things. They should do so not to possibly take away the invite or change their minds, but rather to recognize the struggles of their newest member, especially given how this situation could reflect on the league if they allow it to get uglier or drag on toward Rutgers' official move to the conference in 2014.
Paying attention to the Rutgers' scandal is not about second-guessing, it is about being aware. The Big Ten might even be best served reaching out to its new member in an effort to help it calm the storm.
After all, it is going to have to work with these people soon.
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