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Aside from football prestige, what will Nebraska add to the Big Ten?

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When Big Ten presidents approved the addition of Nebraska on June 12, thoughts immediately turned to what it meant for Big Ten football.

However, the Cornhuskers’ effect on the Big Ten extends beyond the gridiron.

Besides football, Nebraska will join the Big Ten in 20 other sports when the move takes effect July 1.

Women’s basketball is one sport that might benefit. Nebraska’s women’s team recorded a perfect regular season in the 2009-10 campaign before losing in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and finishing 32-2. Coach Connie Yori took home National Coach of the Year honors for her team’s success.

“There has been a lot of balance from top to bottom” in the Big Ten, Yori said in a phone interview with The Lantern. “We hope that we can come into the league … (and) be competitive.”

The coach said doing so will not be easy in one of the nation’s toughest conferences for women’s basketball.

“There are so many good programs in the Big Ten,” Yori said. “Consistently, there are three to five teams ranked every year.”

Ohio State (No. 6), Iowa (No. 18) and Michigan State (No. 25) are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. Nebraska is ranked No. 24.

Though the Cornhuskers’ men’s basketball program has not made the NCAA Tournament this decade, another winter sport might also improve the Big Ten.

“The Big Ten is a premier conference in the sport of wrestling in the country and has been for a long time, and to add Nebraska only makes the conference that much better,” OSU wrestling coach Tom Ryan said in a phone interview with The Lantern.

Nebraska is No. 14 in wrestling in the Coaches’ Poll. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, OSU, Michigan, Northwestern and Purdue are the Big Ten schools in the Top 25.

“You have to go through more teams to win a Big Ten conference,” Nebraska coach Mark Manning said in a phone interview with The Lantern. “It’s not getting easier, I’ll say that.”

Adding the Cornhuskers will increase the number of competitive wrestling matchups in the conference, Ryan said.

“It’s great competition. It’s great for the fans. It’s a well-known institution, so people come to the event. You can market the event,” he said. “On a number of different levels, having Nebraska is a positive.”

Nearly 1,500 visitors attended the dual meet between OSU and Nebraska on Nov. 21 at St. John Arena, where the Buckeyes fell 24-11.

Nebraska is also historically strong in baseball and by parting with the Big 12, leaves behind last season’s top RPI conference in the country.

“Baseball is a big deal to Nebraska, and they will be a very strong addition to the Big Ten,” OSU baseball coach Greg Beals said. “The thing that I like is that it broadens and spreads our wings a little bit as a conference.”

The Cornhuskers will be one of the most southern locations in the conference, and they’ll use that to their advantage, coach Mike Anderson said. The South is typically the strongest region for baseball because athletes can play outdoor year-round.

“We bring an undying commitment to make (the Big Ten) a strong RPI” conference, Anderson said. “There won’t be a time when we don’t try to have the hardest schedule in the conference.”

Regardless of what each program brings to the Big Ten, Yori thinks the move was the right decision for Nebraska.

“I think it’s going to be a great move for the University of Nebraska, and frankly the entire state of Nebraska, to make the jump to the Big Ten,” she said. “I am very comfortable with the move and I think it was the right thing to do.”

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