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Nebraska will join the Big Ten


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The Big Ten logo may soon need an adjustment.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln was unanimously approved by the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors June 11 to join the conference effective July 1, 2011.

Nebraska will become the league’s 12th school, leaving the crumbling Big 12 behind. The Cornhuskers will begin athletics competition as a member of the Big Ten beginning with the 2011-12 academic year.

Penn State was previously the conference’s newest school, joining in June 1990.

“The Big Ten has much to offer,” Nebraska Athletics Director and former Cornhusker head football coach Tom Osborne said in a release. “This is a tribute to our athletics program, our academic programs, and our fans. This is the right move at the right time. This is a rare opportunity that may not have been an option for us in the future.”

A sped-up process

The move is the first official change to the Big Ten since Commissioner Jim Delany announced on Dec. 15 that the conference would pursue a 12- to 18-month timetable for expansion.

Word of expansion talks from other conferences around the country, and the first official domino to fall in the world of realignment — the announcement of Colorado’s move from the Big 12 to the Pac-10 — forced Delany and other officials to expedite that process.

“We were ready to move more quickly when this opportunity arose,” he said in a press conference televised on the Big Ten Network on June 11. “We’re going to spend most of our time making sure this integration works successfully.”

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta answered questions in an impromptu news conference prior to the announcement of Iowa’s 2010 Athletics Hall of Fame class on June 11.

Barta said Nebraska is a great fit for the conference academically, athletically, culturally, and financially, satisfying all four criteria the Big Ten was concerned with in its expansion pursuit.

Iowa/Nebraska a ‘natural rivalry’

Nebraska is a “natural rival” for Iowa, Barta said.

“I think it’s going to be a terrific rivalry,” Barta said. “We get sort of a win-win. Not only is it a great addition to the conference, it’s a great rivalry automatically for our fans and for our student-athletes.”

Barta also said he expects Iowa will continue to play Iowa State in a yearly nonconference football game unless something changes in the makeup of conference scheduling. He said he and Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard have a plan that would allow the contract to be voided if something interferes with the scheduling of the annual game.

Numerous Iowa coaches echoed Barta’s excitement in a release issued June 11 by Iowa Sports Information, including head football coach Kirk Ferentz, who compared the addition of Nebraska with Penn State joining the conference in 1990.

“I would anticipate the reaction to this development by players and fans to be extremely enthusiastic,” he said. “From my vantage point, Nebraska is a natural and positive fit in all regards, and this announcement is a real credit to all of those involved in providing leadership in the Big Ten.”

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