Known as one of the most successful undertakings of intercollegiate sports, the Big Ten has been a home to an ongoing tradition of developing determined leaders and a lineage of legends. The conference, even in its early days, was quick to establish itself as the pre-eminent collection of institutions in the country.
The history of the Big Ten Football traces back to hundreds of years ago when then-Purdue president James H. Smart on January 11, 1895 and leaders from the University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Chicago, University of Illinois, and Northwestern University met at the Palmer House hotel in Chicago and decided to develop and organize regulating principles for intercollegiate athletics. A blueprint for college athletics’ administration was outlined at that meeting under the leadership of appointed faculty representatives.
A year later, one faculty member from each of the seven universities met at the same venue. These faculty members officially established the conference mechanics that was officially incorporate in 1905 as the “Intercollegiate Conference Athletic Association.” In 1899, the State University of Iowa and the Indiana University joined and Michigan briefly withdrew in 1908. The Ohio State University joined the conference in 1912 and the conference was first referred to as the “Big Ten” by members of the media when Michigan made a return in 1917.
The name “Big Ten” was eventually incorporated in 1987. The conference agreed in principle in December 1989 to invite Pennsylvania State University for membership and a formal membership application by the University of Nebraska was approved by the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) on June 11, 2010 to expand the conference to 12 institutions. Nebraska officially joined the Big Ten Conference on July 1, 2011.
The member institutions of Big Ten are primarily major flagship research universities that are well-regarded academically and have large financial endowments. The Big Ten universities educate more than 500,000 total students.
The Big Ten remains a national leader in intercollegiate athletics more than hundred years after its inception, both on and off the field.