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Big Ten approves new divisions, nine league games

The SportsXchange

The Big Ten approved on Sunday divisional realignment for the 2014 season and a nine-game conference schedule beginning in 2016.

During a conference call, Big Ten presidents unanimously approved the recommendations of its athletic directors for East and West divisions and to increase the conference schedule from eight to nine games to help accommodate the addition of Rutgers and Maryland.

The Big Ten is abandoning its widely mocked Legends and Leaders divisions, which were configured for the 2011 football season based on competitive balance after the addition of Nebraska, for divisions based on geography.

The West Division will have Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Illinois and Purdue. The East will be made up of Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Penn State, Rutgers and Maryland.

"It's pure geography," Delany told ESPN.com. "Last time, we were a combination of competitive balance and geography being last. So those names weren't available to us last time. We didn't have a lot of discussion on it.

"We thought the geography was a good way to bind the conference together. We also wanted to preserve as much tradition as we could, and we do that through the protection of the rivalries. Everybody will play everybody at least once in a four-year cycle, even though it's a bigger conference."

The Big Ten considered a 10-game conference schedule but found it too difficult to give schools an opportunity to schedule seven home games a year to generate revenue. Big Ten teams haven't played nine conference games since 1984.

The divisions are for football only and no other sports. The Indiana-Purdue rivalry will be the only protected annual crossover game between the divisions.
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