Rutgers football booster gives $1.25M vote of confidence – Asbury Park Press
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With their seven-figure donation to Rutgers athletics, longtime boosters Ron and Joanna Garutti are not only overhauling the weight room at the Hale Center training complex.
They are expressing $1.25 million worth of faith that the time is now for Rutgers with a gift earmarked toward accomplishing one of new football coach Chris Ash’s top priorities.
“It represents our vote of confidence in Pat Hobbs’ leadership of our athletic department and the vision he has for it, as well as our confidence in Chris Ash’s leadership of our football program,” Ron Garutti said.
“We absolutely hope that it will encourage others to give. Quite frankly, we know we need to change some attitudes around Rutgers and one of those relates to giving.”
Ron, a 1967 Rutgers College graduate, is a member of the Rutgers Board of Trustees, Board of Overseers and the Board of Governors-headed Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics.
He and his wife, a Rutgers diehard in her own right, endow a football scholarship, but they wanted to up their commitment to the new regime, especially after getting to know Ash and new strength and conditioning coach Kenny Parker.
“We knew we were going to do something,” Garutti said, “but the only question was: What could we do that would do the most good? We’re excited about it. We think it can make an impact with over 100 football players in our program who are all going to use that.”
The Garuttis already had donated $250,000 to a related project but redirected that amount plus an additional $1 million after being introduced to the specific weight room plans at private event on National Signing Day, as first reported by NJ.com.
The Ron and Joanna Garutti Strength and Conditioning Center should have its completely new look by the start of summer workouts. The beginning stages of the overhaul has caught the attention of recruits at recent Junior Days.
“It’s not just about moving weights around,” Garutti said. “It’s about a whole philosophy of what a strength and conditioning program at a Big Ten university should be. Not just the physical development, but the mental development, the emotional development.”
Much has been made about the grueling offseason training – including an early-morning boot camp and a special “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” workout that kicked the intensity up another notch last week – Rutgers players are enduring.
Garutti, who has attended every Rutgers football bowl game including in 1978 and 112 straight home and away football games, said he attended a weight room session two weeks ago and the behind-the-scenes look solidified his confidence. It is hope other new and longtime donors follow suit.
Rutgers athletics launched a $100 million fundraising campaign in January with the goal of building new facilities. Donors are being encouraged to reach beyond what they might initially think they are comfortable giving.
“This coaching staff and these players are busting their butts now to become successful,” Garutti said, “and we cannot have a fan base and a donor base that while they are busting their butts, the donor base sits on their butts.”
Hobbs and Ash recently met with major donors at the home of Rutgers supporters Steve Plofker and Bobbi Brown.
Some of the same crowd plus a group of 20-plus prominent Rutgers football alums was on hand Saturday night for a Tackle Sickle Cell charity event held by Devin and Jason McCourty at High Point Solutions Stadium.
“This is a totally different landscape now and for us to compete at this level we need to change a lot of things,” Garutti said.
“We don’t want to hear any more of ‘Rutgers is a sleeping giant’ or ‘It’s time’ with no action behind it. We recognize that not everybody can give a million dollars, but it’s time for everybody to step forward.”
Staff Writer Ryan Dunleavy: firstname.lastname@example.org