If UMass Amherst and UMass Lowell wish to learn from cautionary tales, they should pay very close attention to Rutgers University. Like UMass Amherst, Rutgers is a northeastern state university that labors in the shadows of prestigious private schools nearby — and has a much lower national profile than such sports-championship factories as Michigan or Ohio State.
In what has become standard operating procedure these days, Rutgers decided to raise its profile by joining the Big Ten Conference, beginning next year. Anticipating the revenues and TV exposure of playing Ohio State and Michigan, Rutgers’ then-athletic director Tim Pernetti boasted, “This secures our stability in athletics forever. The financial resources go without saying.”