If there were an Ivy League of athletic conference schools, it may be the Big 10, the oldest Division I athletic conference in the United States.
Big Ten List
Niche Overall Grade
|A+||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Champaign||IL||31,118|
|A||University of Iowa||Iowa City||IA||19,639|
|A+||University of Michigan||Ann Arbor||MI||27,046|
|A+||Michigan State University||East Lansing||MI||34,196|
|A+||University of Minnesota||Minneapolis||MN||29,125|
|A-||University of Nebraska - Lincoln||Lincoln||NE||18,039|
|A+||Ohio State University||Columbus||OH||38,884|
|A+||Penn State||University Park||PA||37,917|
|A||Purdue University||West Lafayette||IN||29,360|
|A+||University of Wisconsin||Madison||WI||28,167|
|A||University of Maryland||College Park||MD||24,486|
|A-||Rutgers University||New Brunswick||NJ||30,038|
Setting: Palmer House Hotel, Chicago, 1895.
Purdue University president James H. Smart is joined by representatives from the University of Chicago, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, and the University of Wisconsin to organize the regulation of intercollegiate athletics. What would transpire would be the basis for the Big Ten Conference.
The main thing these university leaders wanted to outline was the idea of restricted eligibility for full-time students who were negligent in their studies, so while sports were important, excelling in school was just as meaningful. A year later, these seven institutions would meet at the Palmer House again, this time officially calling themselves the “Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives” or “Western Conference.” By 1899, Indiana University and the University of Iowa joined, and in 1910, Ohio State University entered the organization, bringing the number to 10 and earning the conference the “Big Ten” moniker.
The University of Chicago held the first Big Ten competition in 1901, an outdoor track and field championship that became one of the conference’s essential sports. Today, the conference consists of more than 10 teams each in the men’s and women’s sections, including track and field.
Big Ten Sports
Big Ten Men's Sports
Big Ten Women's Sports
|Cross Country||Field Hockey|
|Outdoor Track||Outdoor Track|
Headquartered in Rosemont, Ill., the Big Ten Conference was founded based on the following rules:
- Academic accountability matching athletic accountability
- Eligible athletes meeting entrance requirements
- Eligible athletes completing a full year’s work and having one year of residence
Student athletes who follow these rules are eligible for the Medal of Honor award, which started recognizing students in 1915 and is considered the most renowned achievement in the association.
Big Ten Fast Facts
|Members||14 (as of July 2014)|
Big Ten Through the Years
While the conference gained its name for having 10 schools in its league, the number of participating schools has changed through the years. It wasn’t until 1917, after the University of Michigan had returned after leaving the conference in 1908, that the circuit started to be referred to as the “Big Ten,” since previously it only had nine schools.
In 1946, the University of Chicago withdrew, and by 1949, Michigan State University was added, so the number fluctuated between 9 and 10 for years. By 1981, the league started adding women’s sports and was the first conference to initiate goals for both men and women under 1992’s Gender Equity Plan.
After Penn State was added in 1990, the “Big Ten” number was permanently altered, bringing the participating institutions to 11. In 2011, the University of Nebraska – Lincoln was added, and the number will rise to 14 in 2014 with the addition of University of Maryland and Rutgers University after approval by the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors.
The Bottom Line
Today, the Big Ten Conference is so big that it has its own TV network, the Big Ten Network, which was created in 2006. While sports are inherently what the conference is known for, it’s academic responsibility that aided in its formation.