PISCATAWAY – Rutgers Athletics held a ceremony Monday afternoon to symbolize the placement of the final piece of structural steel in the construction of the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center at Rutgers University, which is slated for completion in summer 2019. Dignitaries, donors, staff members, head coaches and student-athletes were among the many supporters to sign the beam before it was hoisted into place in the 307,000-square-foot, four-story sports facility and parking deck adjacent to the RAC.
"I love to sign diplomas, I love to sign contracts, but most of all I love to sign steel," said Rutgers University President Robert Barchi. "This, to me, is one of the signature things that we have been trying to accomplish. It's not that easy to do. It's taken the partnerships that we've put together with our legislators, and the partnerships we've put together with our friends, to make this happen."
Barchi, RWJBarnabas Health President and CEO Barry Ostrowsky, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Patrick Hobbs and men's basketball student-athletes Myles Johnson all made remarks during the ceremony, which was streamed via Facebook Live. Rutgers Board of Governors Vice Chairman Mark Angelson served as emcee.
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The RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center represents a partnership between Rutgers and RWJBarnabas Health to create a comprehensive sports medicine program to serve Rutgers athletes, students and communities throughout New Jersey. RWJBarnabas Health is the exclusive health care provider for Rutgers Athletics and is creating a best-in-class sports medicine program to be expanded across the state. The facility will serve as headquarters for a world-class sports medicine program.
"We are a fortunate organization that is pursuing a mission to make the people of New Jersey live happier and healthier lives," said Ostrowsky. "Rutgers University is an internationally renowned educational institution that has its research felt around the world. It was only natural that our two organizations would come together."
The building will also provide state-of-the-art practice facilities, training areas, locker room and office space for men's and women's basketball, wrestling and gymnastics. A café serving healthy meals to student-athletes, as well as a merchandise store open to the general public, will also be included in the facility, which rises via the "R Big Ten Build" campaign to raise $100 million for new or upgraded facilities.
"This is a special day for Rutgers," said Hobbs. "This is a day that we talk about. When I came here I said, we're going to be about championships. Steve Pikiell put up three shelves in his office. One for our first Big Ten Championship, one for a Final Four and one for when we win an NCAA Championship. We don't just say that, we believe that."
The RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center will anchor a new Livingston Campus quadrangle, serve as a vibrant new destination and support a championship culture. Perkins-Eastman is the design and architecture firm and Epic Management, Inc. is the general contractor.
"We will have all the resources to be successful in our future years," said Johnson. "This facility is going to set us apart…On behalf of every current Scarlet Knight and those in the future, I would like so sincerely thank Dr. Barchi, Mr. Ostrowsky and Mr. Hobbs for providing us this amazing facility."
Rutgers had four programs (wrestling, men's lacrosse, women's soccer, field hockey) nationally-ranked in final coaches polls and 40 Scarlet Knights earned All-Big Ten honors in 2017-18. A school-record 248 student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten recognition. In between their athletic and academic achievements, Rutgers student-athletes made 159 community appearances and performed 5,176 hours of community service.
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