Response to Charge S-0212: Review and provide recommendations
on policies regarding the use of athletic facilities as rain sites or
venues for non-athletic events (such as use of the Louis Brown Athletic
Center (the RAC) as a rain site for RutgersFest and other similar University-wide
events). What athletic facilities are usually made available for
non-athletic events? How do these facilities tend to meet (or fail
to meet) the needs of these events? How do peer institutions with
similar facilities share their resources? Provide advice as to how
these facilities can be best utilized by the University community at large.
This charge should be coordinated with Dean Pamela Johnston of the Office
of Student Involvement and Ghada Endick, Director of Rutgers College Programs
in the Office of Student leadership, Involvement and Programs, who have
collected information on the use of athletic facilities at peer institutions.
On February 3, 1998, Athletics Director Robert Mulcahy said, "There are Great universities in this country where academics, cultural activities, recreation, intramural sports and Division I athletics combine to create an extraordinarily rich, diverse campus life. Rutgers will be at the top of that list. We can create a model athletics program that will be the focal point of campus life and a centerpiece of state pride.”
In the spirit of these words, student organizations, their advisors, and deans requested the use of the University's key athletic facility, the Louis Brown Athletic Center, for four purposes:
1) As a rain site for convocationAll four requests were summarily denied. This apparent spirit of non-cooperation is disheartening to University students who attend these events, especially considering that many non-University organizations have access to the facility. For example, as per the New Brunswick Board of Education, local high schools are permitted to hold their high-school graduations at the Louis Brown Athletic center. In addition, about 14,000 students and their guests attend the annual RutgersFest event. In the event of rain, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has designated the College Avenue Gym, which could hold only about 1,800 students. The Louis Brown Athletic Center holds about 8,500 people. The Student Affairs Committee found the current situation hard to justify, since this high-capacity facility was once regularly used for non-athletic University events.
2) As a rain site for RutgersFest
3) As a rain site for commencement
4) For one large-scale program organized by the programming boards of the various colleges, at the convenience of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics
The History of the Louis Brown Athletic Center (LBAC)
The Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC), also known as the Louis Brown Athletic Center (LBAC) was built in 1976 on the Livingston campus. In 1977 it served as host for both the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights and New Jersey Nets professional basketball team. The majestic new facility could seat 8,500 eager fans. Since its inception, the Louis Brown Athletic Center has been the center of controversy. A rift within the community was quickly created in 1977 because of the Rutgers students’ desire to hold large-scale events in the facility, and the desire of the Athletics Department to only utilize the LBAC for athletics purposes.
Controversy over the utilization of the Rutgers Athletic Center reached its peak on October 31, 1978, when a potential Bruce Springsteen concert conflicted with a pre-arranged men's basketball practice. The head coach of the men's basketball team, Thomas Young, refused to move the practice to any of the other available athletic facilities. Instead of performing at the Rutgers Athletic Center, Bruce Springsteen performed at the Jadwin Gym at Princeton University, right down the road from Rutgers. This incident sparked outrage among the student body, and boycotts and disruptions of basketball games were threatened in response to the actions of Coach Young.
In response to the students’ protests, the central administration created the New Brunswick Programming Committee (NBPC). Clinton Crocker, who worked closely with Assistant Athletic Director Donald Heilman, initially chaired the NBPC. The NBPC was granted the authority to schedule non-athletic events at the Rutgers Athletics Center in addition to having two conflicting athletic practices moved to other athletic facilities. However, the NBPC did not have the authority to alter any previously scheduled athletic events at the RAC. The committee also worked with a promoter to book major artists to perform at the RAC. After carefully examining the archives of The Daily Targum, it was observed that the RAC held several highly successful concerts between 1977 and 1984. These included: The Andy Garcia Band, Styx, Paul Simon, Allman Brothers Band and Supertramp, just to name a few. Not only were these large-scale events highly successful, but they also forged a bridge between the Rutgers University community at-large and the Athletics Department. The NBPC dissolved in late 1983, and the lines of communication were never re-opened between the New Brunswick Rutgers Community and the Intercollegiate Athletics Department. From the time period of 1979-1983, when concerts were regularly being held in the Louis Brown Athletic Center, Rutgers was never held liable for any injuries or incidents. As illustrated from the open lines of communication and cooperation, which existed between the students and the athletics department in the early 1980s, Rutgers truly can be a united community with one common purpose.
In addition, several Division I schools regularly and successfully share their athletic facilities with non-athletic departments and organizations.
Whereas, Rutgers University is dedicated to education, research, service and learning, with many diverse and unique entities operating together towards a common mission; and,
Whereas, the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is an integral part of our culture and a remarkable resource for the Rutgers community; and,
Whereas, athletic facilities were regularly and successfully used for large-scale non-athletic University events in the late 1970s through the 1980s; and,
Whereas, non-athletic University departments and organizations have had more limited access to athletic facilities than have many non-University organizations; and,
Whereas, the University should allocate all facilities equitably between athletic and non-athletic events; and,
Whereas, through informal discussion and unprecedented cooperation of the administration during the assembly of this report and resolution an agreement has already been reached for formation of an administrative committee to examine this issue;
Therefore, Be It Hereby Resolved, that the University Senate
endorses the Report and Resolution of the Student Affairs Committee on
this issue, and, with thanks, urges the administration to fulfill its commitment
to reopen the lines of communication between the Department of Intercollegiate
Athletics and the University community at large in respect to use of Rutgers’
athletic facilities for non-athletic events.