University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Harvey Perlman says expansion of the Big 10 is in the best interest of the conference and the best interest of Nebraska.
Rutgers University and The University of Maryland will be joining the Big 10.
“I think there are some real opportunities for us,” Perlman tells Jack Mitchell and Chris Whitney on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
Rutgers, a public university located in New Brunswick, New Jersey, will leave the Big East and possibly join the Big 10 as early as next year. The Rutgers football team had been ranked earlier in the year, but has dropped out of the AP Top 25 poll though it received votes.
Maryland is located at College Park. A traditional basketball school, it likely will join the conference in 2014.
The addition of the two schools will bring the Big 10 Conference to a total of 14 teams.
Many have speculated that the expansion is driven more by television revenue than enhancing competition within the conference. Rutgers will allow the Big 10 to expand in the New York television market and Maryland opens up the Washington, D.C. market to the conference.
Is TV market share the most important factor driving expansion?
“Well, I mean, I don’t know how you say it’s the most important thing,” Perlman responds. “Obviously, it’s important to us, because it funds our athletic programs, allows us to not have to subsidize from tuition and fee revenue. At least, from the Nebraska standpoint that’s true. I can’t say it’s irrelevant.”
Perlman is quick to point out that both schools are land-grant universities that bring solid academic reputations to the conference, not just quality football and basketball teams. Rutgers, founded in 1766, even boast that it is the only university in the country that is a colonial college, a land-grant institution, and a public university.
Moves by other conferences might have motivated the Big 10’s move as much as anything. The SEC expanded by taking former Nebraska conference rivals Missouri and Texas A&M. The ACC has been expanding its reach along the East Coast with the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh.
“We’ve never led this rush to increase size or to affiliate,” Perlman says, “but things have changed since then.”
The Big 10 had talked with the Pac 12 about a possible collaboration, but the talks broke down and the Pac 12 backed away from any deal.
Chris Whitney, KLIN, contributed to this report.
AUDIO: UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman talks with KLIN about Big 10 expansion. [17:15]