Rutgers Athletics and RWJBarnabas Health enter a partnership to build a facility that will deploy top sports medicine practitioners to bring out the best in athletes.
As president Robert Barchi said at the November 1 groundbreaking for Rutgers Athletics’ first new facility in three decades, “When we made the decision to enter the Big Ten, we knew it was going to be a haul.” The more hands you have, though, the lighter the load, and the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center—a four-story, multisport training complex that will be completed by July 2019—has behind it a partnership of epic proportions.
RWJBarnabas Health, New Jersey’s most comprehensive health network, is investing $18 million in the facility and is developing a best-in-class sports medicine program within it. RWJBarnabas Health will become the exclusive health care provider for Rutgers Athletics, building a team of sports medicine experts that will provide an extensive array of services to Rutgers’ 625 Big Ten athletes.
On-site specialists will include athletic trainers; physical therapists; sports medicine physicians; orthopedic surgeons; sports psychologists, psychiatrists, and other behavioral health practitioners; sports performance experts; and nutritionists. Injury prevention as well as treatment will be emphasized. The program will also function as a laboratory for the development of best practices in sports medicine and as a clinical training site for many of the schools within Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, says that division’s chancellor, Brian L. Strom. The patient care aspect will later be expanded to serve all Rutgers students, faculty, and staff and, ultimately, communities across New Jersey. “By being a partner with Rutgers, at every level, we will be pursuing our mission to make New Jersey better,” says Barry H. Ostrowsky RC’72, president and CEO of RWJBarnabas Health.
The 295,000-square-foot RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Performance Center, which will be adjacent to Rutgers Athletic Center at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, will feature dedicated training spaces for the men’s and women’s basketball, gymnastics, and wrestling teams, as well as a parking garage. The project is a part of R Big Ten Build, Rutgers Athletics’ targeted campaign to raise $100 million for new or upgraded athletic facilities. Thousands of donors have supported the campaign thus far, and 13 of them have contributed more than $1 million. In addition, $25 million in tax credits will help fund the construction. New Jersey senators Raymond J. Lesniak RC’71 and Thomas H. Kean Jr., who are among the tax credit legislation’s bipartisan sponsors, both spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony about the project’s importance.
The new facility, and the resources it will house, will be a game changer for student-athletes and the programs they represent. It also carries symbolic significance. “This is an announcement that we intend to compete in the Big Ten,” says Patrick Hobbs, the director of athletics at Rutgers, “and we intend to compete at a championship level.”
—Lara De Meo Hoyt RC’97