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Rutgers joins the Big Ten, leaving Big East behind

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Rutgers joins the Big Ten, leaving Big East behind

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) As the Big East was being picked apart, Rutgers was looking for a way out and a new place to show off a football program that has been resurrected in the past decade.

Not only did Rutgers find that escape hatch, the Scarlet Knights ended up in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in college sports.

Rutgers joined the Big Ten on Tuesday, leaving the Big East behind and cashing in on the school's investment in a football team that only 10 years ago seemed incapable of competing at the highest level.

The move follows Maryland's announcement a day earlier that it was heading to the Big Ten in 2014. The additions give the Big Ten 14 schools and a presence in lucrative East Coast markets.

Rutgers announced its decision Tuesday at a campus news conference attended by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, Rutgers President Robert Barchi and athletic director Tim Pernetti.

``The Big Ten is really where Rutgers belongs,'' Barchi said. ``This is not just a good fit for us athletically, it's a good fit for us academically and as an institution.''

Rutgers has been competing in the Big East since 1991. But the league has been torn up by conference realignment, losing three key members last year.

Pernetti had insisted all along that Rutgers would land on its feet, that being a member of the prestigious American Association of Universities and residing in the largest media market in the country meant the school wouldn't be cast aside as the landscape of college sports changed.

The Scarlet Knights landed in the best possible spot. A spot that seemed unthinkable a decade ago when Rutgers football was a Big East cellar-dweller.

``It's a transformative day for Rutgers University, and transformative in so many ways,'' Pernetti said. ``This is about collaboration at every level, the perspective the Big Ten institutions have, the balance between academics and athletics, proving over decades and decades that athletics at the highest level and academics at the highest level can coexist. It's the perfect place for Rutgers.''

Rutgers left its entry date ambiguous, though clearly the Big Ten and the school would like it to line up with Maryland's.

The Big East requires 27 months' notification for departing members. The Scarlet Knights will have to negotiate a deal with the Big East to leave early, the way Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia have done.

``Although we are disappointed that Rutgers has decided to leave the Big East Conference, we wish them well,'' Big East Commissioner Mike Aresco said in a statement.

In an interview later, Aresco said the conference would survive. ``We'll move judiciously to replace Rutgers, but we had already changed from the small, Northeast model,'' he said. ``We're a national conference now. We became a bigger and better football conference.''

The Big East is trying to rebuild itself as a 12-team football league next season, with the addition of Boise State and five other schools. Now the conference is again on the defensive. Connecticut or Louisville could be next to go with the ACC looking to replace Maryland.

Aresco said he had been in touch with the newcomers and they were still on board. He declined to speculate on other members leaving.

Whenever Rutgers enters the Big Ten, it will be the culmination of one of the most remarkable turnarounds in college sports.

In 2002, the Scarlet Knights football team went 1-11 under second-year coach Greg Schiano.

The team steadily improved under Schiano as the university made the huge financial commitment necessary to support major college football.

Facilities were upgraded, the on-campus stadium was expanded and as Schiano started to win, his salary rose into the millions. Not everyone on campus embraced the idea of turning Rutgers into a big-time football school, and it did come with a price.

The expanded and renovated stadium cost of $102 million. The school had hoped to raise the money through private donors, but fell short. Rutgers scaled back plans for the expansion and issued bonds and borrowed money to complete the project.

In 2006, the school had to cut six varsity sports. As the football team has become a consistent winner - Rutgers has gone to a bowl six of the last seven years - the athletic department has received tens of millions in subsidies from the university.

Schiano left for the NFL last year, and Rutgers hired longtime assistant Kyle Flood, who has the Scarlet Knights poised to take make another big step. No. 21 Rutgers (9-1) is in position to win its first Big East championship and go to a BCS game for the first time.

In the Big Ten, the revenue Rutgers receives from the league's television and media deals should triple in the short term and could be even more than that in years to come.

The Big Ten reportedly paid its members about $24 million last year, though new members generally do not get a full share immediately. The Big East's payout to football members last year was $6 million.

In exchange, the Big Ten gets in Rutgers a member in the largest media market in the country, which should make the Big Ten Network even more valuable.

``You know, it was a factor,'' Delany said of the New York TV market. ``I think it's been a factor that's been a little overplayed to be honest with you.''

Losing access to that market is yet another blow to the Big East. The conference is again facing an uncertain future and at the worst possible time. The Big East is trying to negotiate a crucial new television contract.

With the Big East on shaky ground, there has been speculation that Boise State and San Diego State could renege on their commitments to the Big East and stay in the Mountain West.

Both schools on Tuesday publicly stated they had no plans to bail on the Big East.

``I can say the Big East took a hit,'' San Diego State athletic director Jim Sterk said during a weekly press conference streamed on the Internet. ``It may take some others, but I can tell you the league will continue to be strong. ... I'm excited about the future and wanted to make sure that was clear and on the direction San Diego State University was taking.''

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap

US in the World Cup quarterfinals after 2-1 win over Spain

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US in the World Cup quarterfinals after 2-1 win over Spain

REIMS, France -- Megan Rapinoe converted a pair of penalty kicks and the United States set up a much-anticipated quarterfinal meeting with host France at the Women's World Cup with a 2-1 victory over Spain on Monday.

Rapinoe's first came in the seventh minute to the cheers of the U.S. supporters melting in temperatures that reached nearly 90 degrees at the Stade Auguste-Delaune. They were quieted a short time later when Jennifer Hermoso tied it up for Spain with the first goal the Americans had allowed in France.

Video review was used to confirm a foul on Rose Lavelle that gave the pink-haired captain the game-winner in the 75th minute, spoiling Spain's spirited effort in its first knockout-round appearance at a World Cup.

"That’s World Cup-level grit right there," Rapinoe said on the Fox Sports broadcast. "You can’t replicate it. You can’t teach it. We told each other during the game we needed to go up a level. They (the matches) only get harder and more intense from here. Everybody’s playing for their lives."

The defending champions head to Paris to face France on Friday night. The French defeated Brazil 2-1 in extra time Sunday night, with Amandine Henry scoring the game-winner in the 107th minute.

Italy wins bid to host 2026 Winter Olympics

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Italy wins bid to host 2026 Winter Olympics

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Italy will host the 2026 Olympics in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, taking the Winter Games to the Alpine country for the second time in 20 years.

International Olympic Committee members voted for the long-favored Milan-Cortina bid over Stockholm-Are from Sweden that also included a bobsled track in Latvia.

Milan-Cortina's jubilant delegation broke into chants of "Italia! Italia!" when the result was announced.

Italy last hosted in Turin in 2006, and the Alpine ski resort Cortina previously hosted the Winter Games in 1956.

Sweden's spirited late campaign effort was in vain, including the mayor of Stockholm appealing to voters from the stage by singing a lyric from Abba song `Dancing Queen'.

A sign of simmering Swedish frustration came minutes later when IOC board member Gunilla Lindberg pushed the limit of Olympic diplomacy ending her team's 30-minute presentation.

Lindberg challenged her colleagues to reward a new kind of creative, cost-effective bid the IOC has said it wanted -- "Or is it just talk?"

Instead, IOC members picked Italy despite a debt-hit economy which faces increasing European Union scrutiny.

"We submit with full confidence to your judgment," Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told voters.

Both candidates would likely have failed to get this far in previous Olympic bidding contests.

The IOC has relaxed previously strict rules that demanded financial guarantees and government support earlier in the process.

It was an attempt to revive Winter Games bidding with just two candidates on the ballot paper for the second straight time, since Russia spent $51 billion on venues and infrastructure for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Now, the IOC seeks to avoid costly new venues -- and potential white elephants -- while encouraging regions and multi-nation bids to share the load. Hence, Sweden teamed with Latvia, across the Baltic Sea, rather than build its ice sliding sports venue.

"We have budget problems in Italy but I think that this is something that everyone has," Italy Undersecretary of State Giancarlo Giorgetti said at an earlier news conference, citing the wealth of the Lombardy and Veneto provinces underwriting the games costs.

"They are two of the richest provinces in Europe," Giorgetti said. "They certainly have the capacity, they have the readiness, they have the finances in order to be able to support the event."

The IOC will contribute at least $925 million toward Italy's games operating costs of up to $1.7 billion. Building athlete villages in Milan and Stockholm shaped as the main capital investment and most uncertain ventures in the projects.

Last week, the IOC flagged Stockholm's village as a risk, and asked for more details of guarantees underwriting the project.

"A letter of intent is as important to us as any contract," Volvo chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said in the formal presentation, in what seemed a rebuke to the Olympic body.

The day-long meetings began with each bid in closed-door sessions with IOC members. The Swedish bid was challenged to prove its support from a Stockholm city authority coalition formed last October and a national government only five months ago.

Sweden Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he assured voters "it's in the Swedish model, it's in our DNA" to deliver a stable Winter Games.

Still, a big plus for the Italian bid -- uniting Milan, the Alpine ski resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo, and several towns in between -- was the IOC's own polling. It found support from local residents around 85% compared to 60% in Sweden.

The 2026 contest meets the IOC President Thomas Bach's long-stated wish to return to traditional heartlands for winter sports after major construction projects from 2014-2022 in Russia, South Korea, and China.

The signature Swedish feature using the ice sliding sports track in Sigulda, Latvia, that meets the IOC's demand to use established sports venues.

The IOC has praised both candidates for projecting sports budgets "on average 20% lower" than spending on the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and 2022 Beijing Olympics.

During the traditionally slick and emotional pleas to be awarded the games, Stockholm mayor Anna Konig Jerlmyr reminded voters of Sweden's most famous music act.

"Abba is everywhere," she said, before singing the lyric: "You can dance, you can dance, having the time of your life."

With more gravitas, Nobel Foundation executive director Lars Heikenstein spoke of Olympic values being an inspiration. Olympic leaders have long coveted a Nobel Peace Prize for the organization.

Sweden's heir to the throne, Crown Princess Victoria, joined a 100-plus delegation at the Swisstech convention center though did not take part on stage.

Italy's bid was livened by two Olympic champions, downhill skier Sofia Goggia and snowboarder Michela Moioli, doing a dab gesture and talking of their hopes to compete on home snow in almost seven years' time.

Sweden's wait for a first Winter Games goes on.

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