I know that this sounds way overly ambitious, but I believe that the only way for the programs to be salvaged is for the Rutgers Crew Association (through major gifts)to buy the boathouse property from Rutgers and lease it back to Rutgers for a relatively nominal sum per year. This would generate instant income for Rutgers athletics (likely in the several million dollar range) and will relieve Rutgers of certain liabilities including, but not limited to, maintenance and certain insurance liabilities. This would also give the Association input into the programs’ operations and will avoid the extreme and historic problem of major contributors having their money taken by Rutgers with no asset to show for it and no accountability by the coaching staff.
Over the long term, the Association could build a new boathouse with three bays to be used by Rutgers, and two to three other bays to be used (for a fee) by New Brunswick Rowing Club, local high schools such as Rutgers Prep, New Brunswick High, Highland Park etc. and single storage. Although this seems like fantasy, it’s not, I’m sure you’re familiar with Saugatuck . Like Saugatuck’s River View Restaurant we could also do the same thing in New Brunswick. The park is being renovated this year along with the Route 18 expansion project and the boathouse property will be in the middle of a newly renovated park on the waterfront. New Brunswick already draws a great dinner crowd and waterfront dining on the second floor of the boathouse would be a great proposition. Unlike when we rowed there, the view is very nice. The canal has been restored and the old trashy marina across the river with the sunken barge has been removed.
Anyway, I think the above is the only real way of providing some protection for the major donors, holding the programs accountable and thereby giving the smaller donors an incentive to donate, providing some income on the business side of things, fostering highschool and club rowing in the New Brunswick area and thereby generating home-grown recruits. Of course Rutgers Crew Association’s structure would have to be significantly modified to address board representation. Opinions as to the tax consequences of the various actions would have to be formally obtained and structures for planned giving would have to be put in place. I honestly feel that the only way to reinstate heavyweight and lightweight crew is for us to take control of our own destiny. Rutgers has demonstrated that there is no such thing as benign neglect. The programs have withered due to Rutgers’ neglect and now Rutgers has cut the programs because, among other things, they have withered. I firmly believe that if the athletes, donors, alumni and family members stand up and take control of this mess, we will really be creating two new programs rather than reinstating the flawed programs that have staggered from season to season with unnecessarily limited, if any, success.