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Nebraska: A Big Ten Conference School What is the Legal Structure?


Nebraska is a member of the Big Ten. The “Big Ten” is no longer a union of ten schools, but, in fact, consists of twelve. They are: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, and Wisconsin.

The Big Ten enjoys a history of strong athletic competition and strong academics. The conference boasts it “has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics and emphasize the value of integrity, fairness, and competitiveness in all aspects of its student-athlete lives, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that each individual has the opportunity to live a Big Life.”1

The Conference’s Commissioner is James E. Delaney, the fifth person to hold the position since the Conference came into existence in 1896. Delaney has been Commissioner for 19 years.

The Presidents and Chancellors of the Big Ten voted unanimously to include Nebraska as the Conference’s twelfth university member. The Council of Presidents, Chairmen, and Michigan State President, Lou Anna K. Simon, said, “We believe Nebraska is an extraordinary fit, reflecting the criteria we established at the beginning of the process—high academic quality, competitiveness, cultural compatibility, and fiscal responsibility. The extensive and in-depth discussions my colleagues and I have had about Big Ten expansion permitted us to act expeditiously and prudently on the application submitted by Nebraska. We look forward to working with our colleagues at UNL in the years ahead.”

Nebraska’s Athletic Director Tom Osborne called the addition of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to the Big Ten, “A tribute to our athletic 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.”

The Big Ten’s rules, which have the force and effect of law, emphasize academics, require strong programs, carefully control scholarship funds, and are viewed as arduous because they focus on producing quality citizens and not simply athletic championships.



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