Nebraska regents approve settlement

OMAHA, Neb. -- University of Nebraska regents approved a $9.25 million settlement Friday that clears the way for the school to leave the Big 12 Conference next year for the Big Ten without going to court.

The regents approved the deal without public discussion at a meeting in Omaha. Nebraska becomes a part of the Big Ten on July 1.

The Big 12, under its bylaws, had sought to withhold 80 percent of Nebraska's actual slice of the conference payout for 2009-10 and its projected distribution for 2010-11. That would have been an estimated $19.4 million.

The settlement allows Nebraska to make a clean break and avoid having the matter settled in court.

Nebraska can reduce its penalty to $8.755 million if the Cornhuskers are one of two Big 12 teams to play in a BCS bowl game this season. The league already is guaranteed one BCS spot.

Nebraska's money -- along with a conference settlement with Colorado, which is bolting for the Pac-10 -- will be split among the 10 remaining Big 12 schools.

Separately, the regents approved plans for a $56 million expansion of 87-year-old Memorial Stadium, a plan that will boost capacity to about 90,000 fans. Athletics director Tom Osborne has said it's necessary to keep the stadium competitive with Big Ten facilities, some of which hold more than 100,000.

The proposed expansion will add about 5,000 seats to the east end of Memorial Stadium, including more than 30 luxury boxes with indoor and outdoor seating for 400 to 500. Between 2,000 and 2,200 seats would be in a new covered and heated section.

The top item of the day was the settlement and Nebraska's decision to bolt the Big 12, which was formed in 1996.

J.B. Milliken, the university president, called the move to the Big Ten an "enormous opportunity" and a sign of "progress."

"While today we focus on athletics, the great promise of the move to the Big Ten" also lies in academic opportunities, he said. "It's a great opportunity for the students and the faculty and for the whole state of Nebraska."

The move also means more money. The Big Ten distributed $22 million to each of its schools last year. Over the past four years, Nebraska received approximately $10 million annually in revenue from the Big 12.

Conference distributions are divided among member schools mostly from revenue derived from football and men's basketball television contracts, bowl games and the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Osborne has said the switch wasn't about money, but rather stability. The Big 12 appeared earlier this year to be on the brink of a breakup, while the Big Ten was courting an expansion.