LINCOLN, Neb. -- So long, Big 12. Nebraska's membership in
the Big Ten Conference is official.
The Big Ten's board of presidents and chancellors unanimously
welcomed Nebraska to the club on Friday, just a few hours after the
school formally disclosed its interest. The move takes effect July
Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said the Big Ten offers
stability "that the Big 12 simply cannot offer."
Nebraska is the Big Ten's first addition since 1990, when Penn
State joined, and it comes just six months after the league
announced that it was looking at expansion.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said he presumed there would be
a Big Ten championship football game beginning in 2011. He also
said the conference would "pause" from further expansion during the
next 12 to 18 months. He declined to comment on whether Notre Dame
or any other school was on the league's radar.
Nebraska's departure is a potentially crippling blow to the Big
12 and the biggest move yet in an offseason overhaul that will
leave college sports looking much different by this time next year.
"We've had a couple disappointing days with the departure of
two valued members," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said during a
teleconference. Beebe vowed to work to keep the 10 remaining
members together but acknowledged that other Big 12 schools are
mulling their options.
Perlman said he believed Nebraska is much more "aligned" with
the Big Ten than the Big 12 when it comes to academics, culture and
The university issued a statement that said for more than 20
years, Nebraska has compared itself to a list of 10 peer
institutions established by the regents. Five of the 10 are Big Ten
members; four are former Big Eight schools that joined Nebraska in
the Big 12 in 1996.
"The University of Nebraska would have new opportunities with
membership in the Big Ten -- and I believe the Big Ten would be a
stronger conference as well," university president J.B. Milliken
Nebraska's move comes at the end of a crazy week in college
On Thursday, fellow Big 12 member Colorado announced it was
leaving for the Pac-10. Texas and other schools in the Big 12 South
-- Perlman told the regents that the Pac-10 had been in touch with
many schools in that division -- could be the next to leave.
regents have scheduled a meeting for Tuesday to discuss the Longhorns'
future in the Big 12.
"One school leaving a conference does not destroy a
conference," Perlman said. "Nebraska did not start this
discussion. After the Big Ten announced it planned to consider
expansion, we saw reports that Missouri would want to go to the Big
Ten, including a statement by their governor, a member of board of
curators and chancellor -- comments that weren't clearly supportive
of the Big 12."
Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne, the longtime football coach,
"As we read the tea leaves and listened to the conversations,
some of the schools that were urging us to stay, we found some of
them had talked to not only one other conference or two but even
three, and those were the same ones urging us to stay," he said.
To generations of Nebraska fans, going to the Big Ten at one
time would have been unthinkable. The school's athletic tradition
is built on more than a century of football games against the likes
of Missouri and Kansas, dating to the days the team was known as
The Huskers, in fact, have been conference partners with Iowa
State, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Kansas State since 1928; with
Colorado since 1948; and with Oklahoma State since 1960.
Now the Huskers are taking their five national
titles in football, three Heisman trophies and enthusiastic fans
east. They will look to start building new traditions, such as a
border rivalry with the Iowa Hawkeyes and regular trips to Ohio
State, Michigan and Penn State.
Watching a football camp at Beaver Stadium, Penn State coach Joe
Paterno declined comment Friday. Paterno in the past has advocated
for enlarging the Big Ten from 11 schools to 14.
"It's just the tip of the iceberg right now," Penn State
receivers coach Mike McQueary said of Nebraska. "Unbelievable
tradition, the things they've done in that program; academically as
At Iowa State, a Big 12 school rarely mentioned in realignment
discussions, officials sent an open letter to boosters expressing
disappointment in the moves by Colorado and Nebraska.
"But as all of the discussions about conference realignment
illustrate, the future of college athletics appears to be less
about academics and competitive success and more about money, as
measured by television viewership and the associated revenues,"
the letter said.
Fatter paychecks will be coming to Nebraska, eventually.
Nebraska received about $10 million from the Big 12 in 2009, half
the $20 million received by Big Ten members (thanks largely to
bigger television contracts and the in-house Big Ten Network).
The Big Ten told Perlman that no current member would receive a
reduced share of revenue from the conference because of the
addition of a new member. Perlman said Nebraska has been assured it
would not receive less than it did in the Big 12, however, if it
joins the Big Ten.
"This is not a financial windfall," Osborne said.
Delany has said he wanted to add only members that would be
considered "home runs." The Huskers' football team struggled in
the early and mid-2000s but have returned to national prominence
the past two seasons under coach Bo Pelini -- an Ohio State alumnus.
As for the Big 12, it never was a comfortable fit for the
When the league formed, Nebraska football was at its pinnacle,
having won three national titles between 1994 and 1997 and winning 60 of
63 games before Osborne retired as coach.
That success didn't translate to juice when it came to
influencing league policies.
Nebraska and the old Big Eight members, all of whom went to the
Big 12, believed they were helping out Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech
and Baylor when the old Southwest Conference collapsed.
The perception in Nebraska was that the Big 12's balance of
power was held by the South Division, particularly the University
Nebraska from day one was against a championship game in
football, for fear it could trip up a team bidding for a national
title. But even issues ranging from academic admission standards to
location of the league office (Dallas) chafed.
When the league last week picked Cowboys Stadium to host the
next three conference championship football games -- after hosting
the 2009 and 2010 games -- Osborne complained that continual treks
south were unfair to fans of the North representative.
And no one in Nebraska has forgotten the controversial outcome
of last year's conference title game. It looked as if the Cornhuskers
had beaten the Longhorns 12-10 when the clock ran out, but one
second was put back on, allowing Texas to kick the winning field
Pelini yelled outside the locker room that Texas was given
the extra second so it could go to the BCS Championship Game.
"This is not about any type of vindictiveness," Osborne said.
"You don't make a decision of this size based on where you're
going to play Big 12 championship games."