NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - For all the critics of the athletics program at New Jersey’s largest public university, there are more than a dozen reasons to cheer for successes of the sports programs and teams on the playing fields, in classrooms and beyond.
Here are 17 on the field and off the field things this took place this past academic year at Rutgers University:
1. Rutgers had four programs nationally-ranked for the second time in three years, with the Scarlet Knights’ wrestling and men’s lacrosse each ranked 11th in the country, field hockey ranked 21st, and women’s soccer at 22nd. All of these teams were listed in among the top 25 in respective coaches polls.
2. Rutgers produced 14 All-Americans, 40 All Big-Ten selections, three Big Ten Position Players of the Year and one Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Wrestling’s Nick Suriano was a national finalist at 125 pounds.
3. A total of 86 Rutgers athletic competitions were televised live on national linear networks in 2017-18. Also, 72 competitions were televised on the Big Ten Network in almost 60 million homes across the United States and Canada. In total, 348 Rutgers Athletics competitions were televised on networks or streamed online over 280 days, an average of 1.24 live competition per calendar day of exposure.
4. Ten student-athletes were selected in major professional league drafts. Kemoko Turay and Sebastian Joseph were selected in the NFL Draft to ensure RU two or more draft choices in three of the last six years, for a total of 12 over tha time period. Jawuan Harris and Nick Matera were selected in the MLB Draft, the first time there were selections since 2010. Casey Murphy was selected in the National Women's Soccer League, marking the third straight year at least one women’s soccer player has been drafted.
5. Men’s basketball enjoyed multiple home sell-outs at the RAC in the same season for the first time since 2011. The 8,325 attendance vs. Purdue (Feb. 3) was the largest at the RAC in 15 years.
6. Wrestling finished fourth in average home attendance, placing in the top five nationally for fourth consecutive season. The program hit new home attendance records twice in 2017-18, as 6,754 watched RU take on Iowa, and 8,321 fans watched the Scarlet Knights wrestle Penn State. Wrestling sold more than 2,000 season ticket packages, the third-straight year the program sold the most season tickets in its history.
7. The Rutgers dance team won the ICU World Championships in the Team Cheer Freestyle Pom category, defeating 20 international squads to capture the Gold medal.
8. The mascot made 247 appearances and the cheer and dance teams combined for 124 appearances in 2017-18.
9. Eight programs - baseball, gymnastics, tennis, volleyball, men's cross country, women's cross country, women's golf and women's lacrosse – earned public recognition from the NCAA for their multiyear Academic Progress Rate (APR). This tied the school record for number of teams. The average multiyear APR rate for Rutgers athletic programs increased to 991, eight points above the NCAA average rate of 983.
10. The university had 249 student-athletes earned Big Ten All-Academic accolades, including 78 in fall sports, 33 in winter, and 138 in spring. The total is a school record for RU.
11. Senior golfer Emily Mills was the female recipient of the prestigious Wayne Duke Postgraduate Scholarship, presented annually to one male and one female Big Ten senior pursuing a postgraduate degree for achievements in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities and leadership. Also, swimming and diving team member Addison Walkowiak and lacrosse’s Michael Rexrode earned Big Ten postgraduate scholarships, while field hockey alumna Sarah Regn was awarded a Fulbright Grant.
12. Five athletic programs produced perfect scores of 100, while 16 out of 20 teams earned marks above 80 percent in the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate (GSR) report. Athletics posted an overall score of 85, its ninth consecutive year with a score of 84 or above.
13. A total of 137 student-athletes earned degrees in 2018. These graduates join the more than 500,000 Rutgers alumni.
14. Rutgers secured the largest gift in its Athletics history - $15 million - to support the academic achievements of its student-athletes through construction of the Gary and Barbara Rodkin Center for Academic Success. The building to be constructed on the Busch Campus will consolidate all academic support services for athletics in a single building. The Center will also house training facilities for the men's and women's soccer and lacrosse programs and offices for athletics' administration.
15. RFund secured $30 million in new gifts and pledges to surpass its previous record of $28.9 million achieved in fiscal year 2016.
16. Rutgers held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate the Marco Battaglia Football Practice Complex, a state-of-the-art facility among the best in the nation, on August 6. The privately-funded Complex includes Kentucky bluegrass fields, high-powered Musco LED lighting, permanent 54-foot film towers, scoreboards and an LED videoboard
17. Student-athletes performed 5,187 hours of community service in 160 separate activities. There were 24 student-athletes who traveled to Puerto Rico with the Rutgers Leadership Academy to benefit Soles4Souls, a global not-for-profit dedicated to fighting poverty.