Nebraska-Lincoln officially joins Big Ten, CIC on July 1

June 30, 2011

University Park, Pa. — The University of Nebraska-Lincoln officially becomes the 12th member of the Big Ten Conference and 13th member of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) on July 1, a year after it was unanimously approved for membership in the conference by the member university presidents and chancellors.

"We are very excited to welcome a new academic and athletic partner in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln," said Penn State President Graham Spanier, who previously served as Nebraska's chancellor from 1991 to 1995. "Not only will UNL benefit from the assets in place in the Big Ten and CIC, but the current members will benefit from the addition of another top academic institution with a tremendous athletic program."

UNL is the first institution to join the Big Ten and CIC since Penn State was added in 1990. The Big Ten began exploring the addition of a 12th institution in December 2009, and on June 11, 2010, the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors approved Nebraska for membership. Days later, provosts from the Big Ten schools plus the University of Chicago approved UNL's membership in the CIC, the Big Ten's academic arm.

For more than 50 years, collaboration among CIC members has resulted in cost savings, shared assets and increased teaching, learning and research opportunities, including efforts to secure research funding and providing courses and study-abroad opportunities. The CIC began integrating UNL during the past year.

"We are honored to be included in the Big Ten," said Chancellor Harvey Perlman. "The Big Ten is a historically prestigious and stable academic community of scholars and students. Known for its athletic prowess, the Big Ten is highly regarded in academe for its academic and research enterprises. There is nothing but upside for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to join the Big Ten."

Academically, UNL shares many of the traits of the current Big Ten/CIC members. A land-grant university, UNL has been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation as a Doctoral/Research Extensive University. With strengths ranging from agricultural sciences to engineering to English, it has long been recognized as one of the top research universities in the Midwest. It was the first institution west of the Mississippi River to offer a doctoral degree when a doctor of physics degree was offered in 1896. In recent years, UNL has made significant investments in life sciences research.

The largest and oldest university in its state, UNL, founded in 1869, currently enrolls more than 24,000 students and offers 150 undergraduate majors. Like Penn State, UNL is a student-centered research university. In 2009-10 it totaled $139.2 million in research expenditures.

UNL's notable alumni include figures as diverse as finance and business titan Warren Buffett, author Willa Cather, longtime Tonight Show host Johnny Carson and World War I-era U.S. Army Gen. John J. Pershing.

On the athletic fields and courts, UNL owns one of the most successful and recognizable brands in all of college sports. The Cornhuskers varsity teams have won 23 national championships in five sports, including five in football, which also has produced three Heisman trophy winners and holds the fourth most wins among major college football programs.

On the gridiron, Nebraska's addition has several major impacts across the conference and for Penn State specifically. By adding a 12th team, the conference will play in two divisions -- Legends and Leaders -- beginning this fall. For the first time, a Big Ten Football Championship game will be played, with the winners of the two divisions meeting on Dec. 3 at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.

Meanwhile, in shuffling the conference football schedule, the Big Ten created annual, cross-division rivalry games. Now, Penn State and Nebraska will meet every year, with the first contest on Nov. 12 in Beaver Stadium.

"We are pleased to have Nebraska as Penn State's annual crossover game," said Tim Curley, Penn State director of athletics. "We have had outstanding contests with Nebraska in the past and look forward to hosting the Cornhuskers in Beaver Stadium in 2011. The addition of Nebraska further strengthens the Big Ten brand and opens new, exciting opportunities for the conference."

The Nittany Lions and Cornhuskers have met 13 times in football, with Penn State owning a 7-6 series advantage. In one of Penn State's most memorable victories, the Lions rallied for a 27-24 victory over the Huskers during the 1982 season on the way to Coach Joe Paterno's first national championship. Nebraska exacted revenge the following year with a 44-6 season-opening trouncing of the Lions. Penn State's 40-7 victory over Nebraska in 2002 remains the most-attended game in Beaver Stadium history, with a record crowd of 110,753.

The Lions and Huskers also make for natural competitive rivals in women's volleyball. Nebraska was the last team to win a national title in the sport, in 2006, before Penn State began its dominant run of four consecutive national championships. Nebraska also won a national title in 2000 and has made five final four appearances in the past decade.

Nebraska, which moves to the Big Ten from the Big 12, will benefit from the national Big Ten Network as well as the equal revenue sharing by conference members.

"We're looking forward to having a new academic partner, of course, but there is also considerable excitement about the overall integration of Nebraska into the conference in all sports and the creation of new divisions in football," Spanier said. "Our fans are excited about having Nebraska and its fans here on campus in November, and about the prospect of some great games on the horizon in other sports this fall such as soccer and women's volleyball."

  • The University of Nebraska campus and downtown Lincoln

    IMAGE: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 01, 2011