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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Delany: Rutgers a 'potential national player'

By Adam Rittenberg


Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was in Maryland on Monday to welcome the school as the league's 13th member. Tuesday, he got to go home.

Delany, a native of South Orange, N.J., returned to his native soil for the announcement of Rutgers as the 14th member of the Big Ten.

Delany spoke with ESPN.com earlier today about the Big Ten's newest addition and went out of his way to acknowledge the potential of a Rutgers program that won't make anyone's current list of national powerhouses.

Rutgers definitely has a high ceiling, according to the commissioner.

"I think they're a real potential national player in athletics," he said. "Why? They have the demographic footprint a lot of great athletics here and academics. The possibility of our institutions coming into this region and their institutions coming into Midwest region ... will introduce a new element into the mix."

Delany views Rutgers as somewhat of a nomadic program, bouncing between leagues and levels. The school that played Princeton in the nation's first college football game on Nov. 6, 1869, was "sort of caught between the Ivies and the major college sports model." The Ivy League dominated college sports for decades and Rutgers, despite a strong academic reputation, wasn't a part of it. When the Ivy League began placing less emphasis on sports, it left few sports powerhouses with strong academics in the northeast.

Rutgers joined the Big East as a football-only member in 1991 -- it became an all-sports member in 1995 -- and only has made a significant investment in its athletic program in the past two decades.

"They never really got traction," Delany said.

Rutgers has found its home in the Big Ten, and Steve Politi notes today, it might be the biggest winner in all of realignment. While Maryland grappled a bit with leaving the ACC, Rutgers always wanted into the Big Ten. The school made that clear back in 2010, and now it has happened.

"The Big Ten," Rutgers president Robert Barchi said, "is really where Rutgers belongs."

Some notes from Rutgers' introductory news conference: