Anyone who had any residual doubts about Rutgers’ rightful place in the Big Ten® had only to witness the passion, and university pride, surrounding the Scarlet Knights’ first home football game, on September 13, against a conference foe, which was none other than Penn State. The Nittany Lions beat the Scarlet Knights in a heartbreaking last-minute victory, 13–10, before the largest crowd to attend a game at High Point Solutions Stadium, 53,774, while two million more watched the game on the Big Ten Network. But a rivalry was undoubtedly born (not that it needed much provocation), and the football team gave fans a preview of the years of competition that await all the teams at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. For a glimpse into what’s in store, head coaches of some teams explain what it will take to succeed in the Big Ten (“Big Time in the B1G”).

Rutgers’ membership in the Big Ten has other advantages. The university is now a member of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the academic consortium comprising all Big Ten universities (plus the University of Chicago) that links members in myriad ways. Faculty and students benefit from this vast network of resources, from research collaborations and library services to study abroad and distance-learning opportunities.

And, as president Robert Barchi pointed out during his September 19 address before the University Senate, membership in the Big Ten gives Rutgers incalculable exposure through the Big Ten Network, where viewership is in the millions. Viewers—many of them high school students and their parents—get to see the Scarlet Knights play but, more importantly, they learn about Rutgers through television spots produced by the university. The exposure is any marketer’s dream.

Our membership in the Big Ten has revealed something else as well. Our alumni—more than 450,000 strong—lag behind our peer institutions in the percentage of graduates who donate to their university (“Playing the Percentages”). This is critical because one criterion that U.S. News & World Report weighs in producing its ranking of top universities—and there is no getting around its influence—is the percentage of alumni who give, not the amount of money they donate. At this promising juncture in Rutgers history, when the ambitions of the university and talent of faculty, staff, and students are at an all-time high, alumni giving—and no amount is too small—helps fund the vast range of undertakings at Rutgers, improves the university’s stature in rankings, and thus elevates the value of a Rutgers degree for graduates, who could have even more reason to point with pride at their alma mater for its excellence in academics and athletics. Besides, they will have bragging rights when Rutgers beats Penn State.