Press Conference Opening Statements
"Thank you all for being here. This is a great day for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We hope it is a great day for the Big Ten Conference. We're very proud of what we bring to the conference and look forward to interacting and integrating our programs with the members there. It is my pleasure to introduce the Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference James Delany."
Big Ten Commissioner James Delany:
"Thank you, it's great to be in Lincoln today. I need to report first off that early in the afternoon the board of regents at the University of Nebraska approved an application for the Big Ten Conference. At about four o'clock today CST, Big Ten presidents and chancellors convened. Most of them were in the Midwest, except for one who was coming back from Paris, France. They were all present and accounted for and had good discussion.
"As you know in December of 2009, our presidents reported a study of expansion that it would take 12 to 18 months. The schedule was expedited as a result of other efforts and activities around the country. Fortunately we had done research internally that when the opportunity to meet with Harvey (Perlman) and Tom (Osborne) in an informal preliminary setting two weeks ago. Subsequent to that, I reported that to our presidents the results of that meeting.
"As the chancellor described earlier this afternoon, he attended Big 12 meetings which expedited our opportunity if we were going to have an opportunity with the University of Nebraska. Where we are today is a quicker end to one expansion question we were faced with. Our presidents voted when we received the application from Nebraska, they voted unanimously to accept Nebraska into the Big Ten Conference as its 12th member. Competition will commence quickly, on July 1, 2011. We'll work hard in the next year to begin the academic integration through institutional cooperation. It is very important that our conference operates on at least two levels, the competitive level, the academic level and also very much so through the Big Ten Network. I talked to Mark Silverman, I told Mark about how we want to put a lot of emphasis on early integration. I think you'll see more Nebraska sports on this year even though they will still be a full-fledged member of the Big 12. The coaches and student-athletes will be competing for Big 12 championships, while working very hard.
"The vote was unanimous. There was a great deal of enthusiasm on the call, they realize the historical importance. An interesting tidbit is that I joined the Big Ten in July 1989. Shortly thereafter we received a call from Penn State that led to the expansion of Penn State in 1990. Stan has been retired for 10 years now, his participation on this call was very unique and very historical, 21 years after the admission of Penn State he was here for Nebraska. He was really excited about that. President (Lou Anna) Simon who is at Michigan State, is the chair of our board. She participated and led the call; she will also (participated) in a conference call at 6 p.m. today to speak on behalf of the presidents and chancellors of the conference.
"Our athletic directors have been involved in the study of expansion. By that I mean not the study of expansion. By that I mean not the study of the institutions under consideration, but the study of the process of expansion that has occurred over the last 20 years. Since Penn State joined the Big Ten, out of the 34 conferences in Division l, 31 have changed membership. There have been over 253 institutions change conferences over the years, over a 21 year period. In the highest football playing Division l, there are 71 changes in that time frame. In the last three days, there are now 74, with Nebraska, Boise State and Colorado. We went into this with idea that change wasn't necessary but it was an appropriate time to take a look at the future. A lot of people have speculated that we were involved with more than one institution and this could be done in a faster manner than a slower manner. We were ready to move more quickly when this opportunity arose.
"We will be spending most of our time working to make sure this integration works successfully, that will take a lot of time and effort. On our staffs part, on our institution's part, on the academic side and also the people here at the University of Nebraska, we're going to be open and aware with respect ot what is going on around the country. We're still on a 12 to 18 month time frame. We'll continue to put a thoughtful amount of effort into this and try to deal with institutions in a respectful way and hope at the end of the day, we're able to either maintain what we have or improve it in a way that improves the conditions on an athletic and academic level.
"It's a great pleasure to be here. I am very proud of our conference, I am very proud that Nebraska has wanted to be a member of our conference. I think those of you who are from here will recognize the culture when you visit Big Ten Conference around the country. The things that are important to you are important to us. We discovered that in our meetings with Harvey and Tom. I am convinced that 21 years ago, and for the last 20 years, we've made as good of a expansion choice with Penn State as any other expansion in the country because of similarities and fit between Penn State and the Big Ten Conference. I am equally convinced today as we stand here that Nebraska will be a great member of the Big Ten, not only on the playing fields, not only in the classroom, but because of the cultural fit, the geographic fit and the desire to be a member of the Big Ten Conference. With that it is a great honor to welcome them as a member of the Big Ten Conference."
Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne:
"My remarks will be very few. I am really pleased to hear the outcome of the vote today. As you know, I've had personal experience with votes that didn't come out so well. Once it is finally a done deal, you always feel better. Thank you to James Delany for coming out here personally. Harvey and I spent a little time with him. I feel very impressed with the thoroughness of which they have approached this. I think they are absolutely serious about making sure the integration is thorough and that there is a good fit. We feel very good about it. I'd like to mention briefly we have a lot of our coaches here today. I reminded them that since they have voted twice, that we hoped they would change their vote again. Our coaches are quite enthusiastic.
"The last thing I would like to say is that it is truly important at this point to recognize the Big 12 Conference. I don't want to have members of the Big 12 feel like somehow we look down upon them, that we're glad that we're gone, because we have had a good association. Some of them we've had associations with for over 100 years. If some of them end up in an unpleasant circumstance, we're very sorry for them. We have good feelings about the conference and its membership. We are really looking forward to being with the Big Ten and being able to do this with them. Thanks for being here. James Delany, thank you and Harvey, thank you for your part in this whole thing. You have been a key person in making it all happen, so thank you."
UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman:
"I want to extend my personal thanks to the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten. I know some of them were in awkward circumstances because of the political environment. We appreciate the confidence they have shown in this University. And again, we're very proud to be a member of the Big Ten Conference."