Nebraska loses AAU status

During the Big Ten's expansion study, league officials often listed membership in the American Association of Universities as a trait they'd like in any new member. All the current Big Ten members are part of the AAU, and the league had hoped to keep it that way.

The exception of course would be Notre Dame, a non-AAU institution the Big Ten twice pursued during the past 15 years.

Nebraska fit the bill when it was admitted to the Big Ten on June 11. But not any more.

The AAU recently voted to terminate Nebraska's membership in the organization after the school failed to meet certain requirements. Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman emailed faculty and staff Friday to inform them about the vote.

From the Omaha World-Herald:

"We have known we were at risk of this for ten years, and successfully fought off a similar threat in 2000," Perlman said. "I had hoped our extraordinary accomplishments and steep trajectory would have made us less vulnerable, but the AAU's approach to the review made this result inevitable."

UNL joined the AAU in 1909. Perlman said UNL has ranked at the bottom of the AAU's members for more than a decade based on the group's ranking system, which ranks all research universities. That ranking system consists of four criteria: research expenditures, National Academy members, faculty awards (from a specified list) and citations.

Those criteria are weighted based on the number of tenure-track faculty at a particular university. Based on those criteria, a number of non-AAU institutions ranked higher than 15 AAU institutions, including UNL, Perlman said.

Perlman told the World-Herald that he didn't think the loss of AAU membership would affect Nebraska's admission into the Big Ten, which officially takes place July 1.

But here's what Perlman said about the AAU and the Big Ten shortly after Nebraska was admitted to the league.

"All the Big Ten schools are AAU members. I doubt that our application would've been accepted had we not been a member of the organization."

The Huskers' nationally known football program might have had a little to do with it, too.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, speaking at last year's spring meetings as expansion was heating up, had this to say about the Big Ten and its AAU ties: "AAU membership is a part of who we are. It’s an important part of who we are."

While this shouldn't impact Nebraska's transition to the league or its involvement in the league's internal academic consortium (Committee on Institutional Cooperation), it is, as Perlman told the World-Herald, "in the short-term, an embarrassment."