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Published: Saturday, 6/12/2010

Nebraska officially switches to Big Ten

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LINCOLN, Neb. - So long, Big 12. Nebraska's membership in the Big Ten Conference is official.

The Big Ten's board of presidents and chancellors unanimously welcomed Nebraska to the club yesterday, just a few hours after the school formally disclosed its interest. The move takes effect July 1, 2011.

Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said the Big Ten offers stability "that the Big 12 simply cannot offer."

Nebraska is the Big Ten's first addition since 1990, when Penn State joined, and it comes just six months after the league announced that it was looking at expansion.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said he presumed there would be a Big Ten championship football game beginning in 2011. He also said the conference would "pause" from further expansion over the next 12 to 18 months. He declined to comment on whether Notre Dame or any other school was on the league's radar.

Nebraska's departure is a potentially crippling blow to the Big 12 and the biggest move yet in an offseason overhaul that will leave college sports looking much different by this time next year.

"We've had a couple disappointing days with the departure of two valued members," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said during a teleconference.

Perlman said he believed Nebraska is much more "aligned" with the Big Ten than the Big 12 when it comes to academics, culture, and athletics.

Nebraska's move comes at the end of a crazy week in college athletics.

On Thursday, fellow Big 12 member Colorado announced it was leaving for the Pac-10. Texas and other schools in the Big 12 South - Perlman told the regents that the Pac-10 had been in touch with many schools in that division - could be the next to leave.

"One school leaving a conference does not destroy a conference," Perlman said. "Nebraska did not start this discussion. After the Big Ten announced it planned to consider expansion, we saw reports that Missouri would want to go to the Big Ten, including a statement by their governor, a member of board of curators, and chancellor - comments that weren't clearly supportive of the Big 12."

Athletic director Tom Osborne, the longtime football coach, agreed.

"As we read the tea leaves and listened to the conversations, some of the schools that were urging us to stay, we found some of them had talked to not only one other conference or two but even three, and those were the same ones urging us to stay," he said.

At Missouri, another school linked to rumors of joining the Big Ten, officials said they remain committed to the Big 12.

"We have obligations to our Big 12 Conference, first and foremost," said Missouri system president Gary Forsee. But he added that conference realignment is "a nine-inning game" - and it's still the first inning.

To generations of Nebraska fans, going to the Big Ten at one time would have been unthinkable. The school's athletic tradition is built on more than a century of football games against the likes of Missouri and Kansas, dating to the days the team was known as the Bugeaters.

The Huskers, in fact, have been conference partners with Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas State since 1928; with Colorado since 1948 and with Oklahoma State since 1960.

Now the Huskers are on the verge of taking their five national titles in football, three Heisman trophies, and enthusiastic fans east.

Fatter paychecks will be coming to Nebraska, eventually. Nebraska received about $10 million from the Big 12 in 2009, half the $20 million received by Big Ten members (thanks largely to bigger television contracts and the in-house Big Ten Network).

The Big Ten told Perlman that no current member would receive a reduced share of revenue from the conference because of the addition of a new member. Perlman said Nebraska has been assured it would not receive less than it did in the Big 12, however, if it joins the Big Ten.

Delany has said he wanted to add only members that would be considered "home runs." The Huskers' football team struggled in the early and mid 2000s but have returned to national prominence the past two seasons under coach Bo Pelini, an Ohio State alumnus.

BOISE - Boise State yesterday accepted an invitation to join the Mountain West Conference as the two-time Fiesta Bowl winner seeks out a league that's a better launching pad into lucrative bowl games.

Boise State, now with the Western Athletic Conference, would become the Mountain West Conference's 10th member.

The move would be effective July 1, 2011.

As Boise State aims to secure a clearer path to Bowl Championship Series games worth millions, Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said his league is boosting its strength by adding a football program that's captured the nation's imagination and prime-time television exposure. The league's main goal is to make a better case to become the seventh college football conference awarded an automatic BCS postseason berth.



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