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Two lawmakers want one more Big Ten school in Illinois

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday

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Illinois football helmet (USA Today Sports)

The Big Ten is already welcoming two new members – Maryland and Rutgers – to the conference this year. Could another school be joining the conference too? Two Illinois lawmakers hope so.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Illinois Senators Michael Connelly and Matt Murphy have introduced legislation “to study what it would take for Illinois to get one of its current public universities – like Illinois State University or Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville -- to become a Big Ten school.”

The two think tough admissions standards at the University of Illinois are causing many students to continue their educations out of state. Illinois and the private Northwestern are the only two Big Ten schools in the state, and Connelly thinks being a “Big Ten school” carries a lot of weight.

“’Big Ten,’ to me, means a top state school,” Connelly said. “There’s a lot of pride in that. The Big Ten has a cachet and a record of higher academic and athletic excellence. Indiana, Iowa, … they come swooping in, and they’re taking some of our really talented kids out of the state – and sometimes for good, so there’s a talent drain that is there, as well.”

For ISU or SIU join the likes of Maryland and Rutgers, at least 70 percent of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors would have to come to an agreement.

Connelly thinks with the help of the state (if the bill passes), ISU or SIU could become the next Big Ten school “once their academics and athletics advance a bit.”

While I appreciate the ambition, I don’t really see this one happening. Sorry, Senators.

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