Athletic Director Barry Alvarez announced at an Athletic Board meeting Friday the Big Ten will push next year to add a 12th member to the league.
According to Alvarez, having 11 teams in the conference creates problems with scheduling. He said if another team was added, the conference could split into two divisions, which would help with scheduling and travel expenses.
“We feel as though a 12th team is beneficial,” Alvarez said.
He added Big Ten Commissioner of Athletics Jim Delaney has begun “a thorough and intense investigation,” looking at schools throughout the country to find a school that is a good fit for the conference.
“The whole question of the structure of the conference is something that is under continual review,” Athletic Board Chair Walter Dickey said.
While Big Ten officials have discussed the addition of another team in the past, this would be the first coordinated effort and the first addition since Pennsylvania State University joined in 1993.
Dickey also introduced an “academic redshirt” program that would stop student-athletes from competing during their freshman year if they do not meet grade point average requirements.
These athletes would still practice with the team, but they would not be allowed to compete in games, Dickey said.
Alvarez said there have been many programs in the past that required athletes with certain academic issues to play in a limited fashion, adding that an academically at-risk student is much more likely to perform well in their second year.
Two members of the ad-hoc committee charged with reviewing the operations of the Athletic Board were also present at the meeting.
The committee was formed in response to several serious allegations against the board revolving around the appointment of football coach Bret Bielema, the creation of the Big Ten Network, and complaints about bullying and the advocating of personal agendas.
Before the meeting began, Dickey introduced the committee members, adding he invited them to attend.
Professor of pathobiological sciences and committee member Timothy Yoshino said the committee is currently looking for information on the way the board functions and operates. He said that includes oversight, athletics on campus, and communications and relationships between board members and departments.
“We are in sort of an information-gathering mode,” Yoshino said. “That’s the reason why we’re here — to get a feel for the kinds of information that’s being conveyed by the board.”
Rice said the main method of information gathering the committee has been using is interviewing, mainly of Athletic Board committee chairs. Yoshino added they plan to interview more people connected with the Athletic Board and Athletic Department.
Rice said the Athletic Board, as well as the people who have been interviewed, have been very willing to share information and cooperate with the review.
According to Yoshino, the committee will continue to review through January and possibly February, and hopes to report its findings in March or April.