Big Ten Conference History, Past, Present & Future Members, Sports

The oldest Division I collegiate athletic league in the United States is the Big Ten Conference (stylized B1G, formerly the Western Conference and the Big Nine Conference). The conference originally had 10 colleges as members; today, there are 14 member institutions, 2 affiliate institutions, and 2 more are expected to join in 2024.

Big Ten Conference

It was set up before the NCAA, when it was first known as the Intercollegiate Conference of Academic Representatives, in 1896. Its headquarters are in Rosemont, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The football teams in the conference play in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), formerly known as Division I-A, the highest level of NCAA competition in that sport. The conference competes in the NCAA Division I.

Big 10 Conference History

When the president of Purdue University, James H. Smart, and representatives from the Universities of Chicago, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern University, and Wisconsin met at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago in 1895 to establish guidelines for governing intercollegiate athletics, the BIG TEN CONFERENCE had already established itself as the foremost association of academic institutions in the nation almost a century earlier.

The “Intercollegiate Conference Athletic Association” was the name given to the league when it was formally incorporated in 1905. The majority of Big Ten members are prestigious flagship research colleges with substantial financial endowments and a strong reputation in academia.

Universities in the Big Ten are known for having large student populations; 12 of the 14 members have 30,000 or more pupils enrolled. More than 520,000 students are enrolled at Big Ten institutions overall, and there are 5.7 million active alumni.

Big Ten Conference Members

The following universities accepted invitations to join the Big Ten in the years indicated: Pennsylvania State University in 1990, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2010, the University of Maryland, and Rutgers University in 2014. Despite the conference’s moniker, the Big Ten has expanded to fourteen members.

In 2012, Johns Hopkins University received an invitation to become an affiliate member of the Big Ten, competing in men’s lacrosse only. In women’s lacrosse, it was also approved as an affiliate member in 2015.


Institution Location Founded Joined Type Enrollment Nickname Colors
East Division
Indiana University Bloomington, IN 1820 1899 Public 48,514 Hoosiers Crimson, Cream
University of Maryland College Park, MD 1856 2014 Public 37,631 Terrapins Red, Gold, White, Black
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 1817 1896 Public 43,625 Wolverines Maize & Blue
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 1855 1950 Public 50,085 Spartans Green, White
Ohio State University Columbus, OH 1870 1912 Public 58,322 Buckeyes Scarlet, Gray
Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 1855 1990 Public 45,518 Nittany
Blue & White
Rutgers University–
New Brunswick
New Brunswick–
Piscataway, NJ
1766 2014 Public 40,720 Scarlet
West Division
University of Illinois
at Urbana–Champaign
Urbana and
Champaign, IL
1867 1896 Public 43,603 Fighting Illini Orange, Blue
University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 1847 1899 Public 31,387 Hawkeyes Black, Gold
University of Minnesota Saint Paul, MN 1851 1896 Public 51,147 Golden Gophers Maroon, Gold
University of Nebraska–Lincoln Lincoln, NE 1869 2011 Public 25,260 Cornhuskers Scarlet, Cream
Northwestern University Evanston, IL 1851 1896 Private 21,000 Wildcats Purple
Purdue University West Lafayette, IN 1869 1896 Public 39,464 Boilermakers Old Gold, Black
University of Wisconsin–Madison Madison, WI 1848 1896 Public 43,193 Badgers Badger red, White

Associate member

Institution Location Founded Joined Type Nickname Colors Sport(s) Primary Conference
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 1876 2014 Private Blue Jays Columbia blue, Black Men’s and Women’s lacrosse Centennial Conference
NCAA Division III

Former Member

Institution Location Founded Joined Left Type Enrollment Nickname Colors Current Conference
University of Chicago Chicago, IL 1890 1896 1946 Private 5,027 Maroons Maroon, White University Athletic Association
(NCAA Division III)

Future members

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of Southern California (USC) announced intentions to leave the Pac-12 Conference on June 30, 2022, in order to become full members of the Big Ten Conference in 2024.

Big Ten Conference

Big Ten Sports

14 men’s and 14 women’s NCAA-sanctioned sports have title competitions sponsored by the Big Ten Conference.

Teams in Big Ten Conference competition
Sport Men’s Women’s
Baseball 13
Basketball 14 14
Cross country 12 14
Field hockey 9
Football 14
Golf 14 14
Gymnastics 5 10
Ice hockey 7
Lacrosse 6 7
Rowing 8
Soccer 9 14
Softball 14
Swimming & diving 10 13
Tennis 12 14
Track and field (indoor) 12 13
Track and field (outdoor) 13 13
Volleyball 14
Wrestling 14

The teams that make up the Big Ten conference are what make it famous, not the conference itself. This is all about Big Ten Conference and to know  more visit the official page of the Big Ten Conference.

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