The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has officially joined the Big Ten, the oldest NCAA Division I conference, in existence since 1896. The football powerhouse had been part of the Big 12 Conference since its inception in 1994. However, rumors of the Big 12 splitting up have been circulating in the last few years, with Nebraska the first team to actually leave.
At the academic level, the relationship should be mutually beneficial for both the conference and the school (check out Huskers.com for a rundown). Nebraska's presence in the conference will streamline collaborations between Big Ten universities; Nebraska's expected membership in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation would be a major factor in accomplishing that goal. The schools in this committee pool all of their resources -- human, monetary and technological -- to advance research projects and increase academic potential.
In addition, Nebraska and all the other Big Ten institutions may find it easier to recruit both students and faculty. This is a function of a more tightly-knit network that results from being a part of the same conference. The addition will also have a positive effect on federal and private funding for all involved parties.
The Big Money
Whatever the academic benefits, the most important part of this deal relates to college sports and the money it generates. In 2006, the Big Ten signed a 10-year contract with ABC/ESPN valued at $1 billion. That money goes a long in explaining Nebraska's interest in joining the Big Ten.
Such deals have made some NCAA conferences quite attractive. The Big Ten Schools received $22 million each during the last reported year in revenue sharing from the conference. As Nebraska becomes a part of this organization, it will enjoy these economic benefits. The Big Ten, famous for its strong football culture, is a much better place financially for the football-savvy Nebraska. As the conference expands, so does the possibility of a Big Ten title game. Conference championship games are known to be especially profitable.
Great sums of money are at stake. Some estimates suggest that Big Ten revenue from television could potentially double by 2016. This would imply that each school could receive upwards of $40 million per year for their membership in the conference. And as the money in college sports grows, the motivation to jump conferences in search of a better payday will grow too.
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