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Rutgers athletics has $265M in debt as Big Ten costs pile up

Rutgers athletics "expected to be on firm financial ground" by this year, but instead it has racked up "$265 million in outstanding debt," according to an analysis of school financial documents by Rimbach & Koloff of the BERGEN RECORD. That debt has been "used to cover the ever-rising operating costs associated with joining the Big Ten." The university has "stepped in," loaning athletics $84M "over the last six years to cover expenses." Still, the university loans have "not been enough to paper over the athletic department’s spending gaps." Rutgers has been "reporting those loans as revenue -- contrary to NCAA guidelines -- artificially inflating the athletic department’s earnings and concealing the true budget deficit." Rutgers athletics also has taken $48M in "loans from the Big Ten Conference." In all, more than $430M in "loans and other support has been sunk into Rutgers’ athletics -- just since it began playing in the Big Ten." Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway said, “It's unsustainable, but I don't have an answer as to what is the sustainable piece going forward." Rutgers was "dead last among 52 public universities" in the Power Five in donations to athletics for operations in '19-20 and ticket sales have "declined by 53% since 2015 and other revenues have bottomed out." Still, coaching and administrative salaries have "more than doubled since Rutgers joined the Big Ten." Rutgers AD Patt Hobbs said, "We have a revenue issue, and to grow revenue, you have to be successful" (BERGEN RECORD, 9/5).

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