Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Editorial: Big Ten, big opportunities

Watching Big Ten athletics is probably one of the least talked about perks of attending Northwestern. Even before NU sports started performing as well as they have in recent years, access to the likes of Ohio State football and Indiana basketball is one of the forgotten gems of being an NU student.

For the past several months, one of the hottest topics in the world of sports has been the possibility of expanding the Big Ten-which already has 11 teams-to 12, 14 or 16 teams. Even after considering the possible negatives-namely, even tougher competition and the loss of some traditions-The Daily supports expanding our conference. We think a large expansion, by three or five teams, would be the most beneficial.

There are a few things we want to be sure of, though. First of all, we want to make sure that adding new teams does not negatively affect the high academic standards of the Big Ten. Currently, we are the only conference in the country where every conference member is also a member of the Association of American Universities. While potential new members of our conference don’t have to be AAU institutions, it is important that they maintain the academic standards of our conference. Schools that fit this mold would include Texas and Notre Dame.

Another important aspect of adding teams to the Big Ten is more specific to NU: We need at least one, preferably two, schools that are similar to us-small and private. The Big Ten is currently ruled by massive public schools like Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. NU is outnumbered and less likely to have its voice heard when making political decisions about budgets and programming. Adding a school similar to NU-options include Syracuse and, yet again, Notre Dame-will give the athletic department allies when negotiating changes and working with the other schools in the conference.

Some have said the conference only needs to add one more school to be eligible to have a conference championship, one of the earliest reasons for expanding. The Daily thinks this is not enough, though. Like it or not, the age of small, regional conferences is giving way to one of large, near-national super conferences. The Pac-10 wants to expand. So does the SEC. If the Big Ten adds only one team, it runs the risk of getting left behind and becoming even more marginalized in the national discussion. Being the first conference to expand, though, would instantly raise the conference’s profile. Rather than following the trend or lagging behind, the nation’s oldest conference could lead college football into a brave new world.

In meetings with The Daily, University President Morton O. Schapiro said he often defers to more famous and tenured university presidents in Big Ten meetings. We understand-this is his first year on the job. Still, The Daily wants Schapiro to make sure that if the Big Ten expands, NU’s interests are heard and given respect. The decision on Big Ten expansion could come as early as this fall. The Daily hopes when the news breaks, all of NU’s concerns have been addressed and that it shows in the results.

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Editorial: Big Ten, big opportunities