In a startling report on Wednesday morning, Rutgers has announced that the athletic department has opted to review the status of men's basketball as a varsity sports. According to the report, the regents discussed the topic into late Tuesday night before opting to officially form a committee to review the sport's status with the athletic department. This does not mean men's basketball has been cut, but the first steps have been taken to cut the sport.
The Rutgers men's basketball program officially started in 1913 and with the conclusion of its 2014-15 season, has played in a total of 101 seasons with six NCAA Tournament appearances and one Final Four appearance. However, in recent years, the program has struggled for relevancy and has failed to secure a .500 record since 2003-04. In total, Rutgers has only went .500 in four seasons since 1993.
Despite the lack of success of Rutgers over the last few seasons, there is no doubt that this will be a controversial move for the school, especially for fans who have followed the program for years. The athletic department released a statement on Wednesday morning to provide an explanation for their decision.
"Rutgers basketball has a great deal of history as a program and it deserves to be recognized. However, at some point, we need to be real about this guys. This team has been a trainwreck for what, like 10 years? Yeah, that win over Wisconsin was nice this year, but has anybody actually looked at some of these losses? We lost to Saint Peter's. Saint frickin' Peter's. That sounds like an elementary school, not a school that should beat Rutgers, who has tens of thousands of enrolled students. At some point, you just have to pull the plug on a program like this."
The Athletic Department is also expecting some pushback from students. In an effort to prevent the kind of uprest that UAB experienced last fall when they announced the end of their football program, Rutgers is planning to use a social media campaign to reduce criticism of the move and get fans behind their plan.
"We understand why people will be frustrated," a Rutgers spokesperson said, "but once fans get behind our #WeDontNeedHoops campaign on Facebook and Twitter, it's hard to see them wanting to go back to the old days of basketball. The age of sports are over. Today is about creating a social media experience for fans and I think once they experience that with their friends, there won't be much opposition to this move."
The Rutgers Athletic Department has also reached out to past members of the program to gather support. Although no former players or coaches were comfortable with going on the record, there was one previous coach who provided some interesting comments regarding the developments.
"About damn time they do something like this," he said. "When I was coaching Rutgers, I really thought we had that potential to become decent, but then it was like the team suddenly remembered they were Rutgers and just fell flat on their faces. It was really disappointing to watch and it's the reason why this program should be shut down."
It should be an interesting few weeks for Rutgers as they review the status of Rutgers basketball as a varsity sport and begin the process of cutting it from their Athletic Department. Perhaps something will change, but it looks like the Big Ten will have to look for a different team for their sure-fire win in the future.