Nebraska addition to benefit Big Ten

by Samuel Gordon

After gaining official approval last June, the University of Nebraska will officially join the Big Ten on Friday.

The institution, its historic football program and its 22 other varsity sports will join the conference that will remain known as the Big Ten âÄî despite the fact that it now has 12 teams. On June 4, 1990, Penn State was the 11th team to join.

âÄúThe University of Nebraska would have new opportunities with membership in the Big Ten âÄî and I believe the Big Ten would be a stronger conference as well,âÄù university President J.B. Milliken said after the move was announced.

NebraskaâÄôs economic effect could also be profound.

NebraskaâÄôs entrance into the Big Ten paved the way for the two six-team football divisions and a subsequent Big Ten football championship game, which is set to generate as much as $19 million by itself, according to Indiana-based Sports Corp. research.

Couple that with the exposure the school will receive from the Big TenâÄôs $1 billion contract with ABC/ESPN and the financial incentive for Nebraska to switch conferences is apparent.

Through the television deal, bowl games and other rights, the conference apportioned roughly $20 million to each school in 2009, the most of any league in the country, and approximately $22 million in 2010.

The conferenceâÄôs television revenue alone is projected to grow to $196 million by 2014, according to Indiana University professor Bruce Jaffee, head of the Big Ten program and budget review committee.

In the short term, Nebraska is poised to add anywhere from $20 million to $22 million to the value of the Big TenâÄôs television deals. That figure wonâÄôt increase the other conference schoolsâÄô share of that money, but a school of such magnitude could add to the conferenceâÄôs leverage in future television contract negotiations, according to USA Today.

Nebraska is also set to begin research collaborations with the conferenceâÄôs institutions, a move that carries potential benefit for every Big Ten school.

Nebraska also brings 23 varsity sports to the table, none more prominent than football.

For the last century, the Cornhuskers have been a powerhouse. TheyâÄôre one of just six teams in Division I football with more than 800 victories and have claimed five national championships.

However, football isnâÄôt the only dominant sport Nebraska brings to the table.

The Huskers possess one of the premier volleyball programs in the nation, and have won three national titles since 1995.

Its wrestling team has quite the reputation, crowning 11 national champions and 89 All-Americans in the programâÄôs history.

The Nebraska baseball team has taken three trips to the College World Series since 2001, and has eight 40-win seasons in the last 10 years.

Both the softball and womenâÄôs gymnastics teams were ranked in the Top-25 for the majority of last season.

It also has womenâÄôs bowling and rifle programs, neither of which can be found at the University of Minnesota.

     All of those programs will be a part of the Big Ten in just a matter of days. How they will change the landscape of the conference remains to be seen.