NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers won’t be shut out and will be in a good spot when the merry-go-round of conference realignments reaches a conclusion.
Speaking on a conference call late Sunday afternoon, athletic director Tim Pernetti said the New Brunswick-based university was not surprised when fellow Big East Conference members Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced during the weekend they were jumping to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Pernetti says Rutgers has been involved in talks with other conferences for a while and it will continue to be a player in the changing landscape of college conferences. The second-year AD refused to say whether Rutgers would remain in a remodeled Big East, adding the university would base its final decision on what is best for the school.
“The bottom line if you are asking me am I concerned about getting shut out, I am not,” Pernetti said. “I think we have great assets and will continue to be a player in this thing throughout until it comes to some form of conclusion.”
Pernetti refused to say what conference Rutgers has spoken with regarding realignment and he refused to say whether the university had applied to the ACC for membership.
“We’re continuing to be engaged in talks with several parties,” Pernetti said. “I think that has been the case for more than the past 36 hours. I has always been our practice to try to keep those talks private.”
Pernetti said Rutgers has a lot to offer any conference, whether it stays in the Big East or moves.
Since taking over as athletic director in April 2009, Pernetti has to answer questions about possible moves to the Big Ten and now the ACC.
He noted that Rutgers has assets that any conference would love to have. It is in the New York television market, has strong academic standards and all of its programs are very clean.
“We have been and will continue to engage in these conversations with several parties and evaluate,” Pernetti said. “In the end, the answer is whatever is best for us, we are going to do.”
Pernetti said this is a critical time for the Big East, which for years has been one of the top basketball conferences in the country. But he felt it could survive the loss of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, and maybe others.
However, he said the league has to have a united front when it comes to television contracts and pooling their rights, and that could be tough.
“That’s the one thing that continues to challenge the Big East,” Pernetti said.
Pernetti held no hard feeling toward Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
“It’s easy for someone to be sitting here stinging about what somebody might have done to somebody else,” he said. “But the bottom line is as an administrator or a president in these positions you have a responsibility to look out for the best interest of your institution. At Rutgers, we do that every day and we will continue to do that every day. It’s no different on any other campus.”
Pernetti is aware that there could be a lot of conference movement soon with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas considering their futures in the Big 12 and Connecticut considering whether it wants to stay in the Big East.
“This time things seem to be moving more quickly than a year ago,” Pernetti said. “If that’s a sign of things to come, it is hard to say, but I do think as more pieces continue to be in motion it starts to trickle down to more people in the process. I would imagine the next 30 days are going to be a telling period of time for our entire industry.”