University students are not just thinking big – they’re thinking bigger

By Amanda Eisenberg, Justin Meyer and Verna Gibson


The Big Ten may be synonymous with sports, but the lesser-known academic and financial benefits will kick in July 1 when the university officially enters the conference.

Within the network, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation — the conference’s academic consortium — allows participating colleges to share resources and collaboratively work on projects.

“We’re about to begin a collaborative research project on traumatic brain injuries,” Brian Ullmann, the assistant vice president of university marketing and communications, wrote in an email. “In fact, we’re hosting a special forum in D.C. on April 22 with the head of the CIC/Big Ten traumatic brain injury research collaboration.”

This forum will be a precursor to a July event in Chicago, hosted at the Big Ten headquarters, to show the conference’s dedication to studying traumatic brain injuries in athletes and to educate trainers.

Summer research is also available to CIC students with the intent of putting more students in graduate and research programs.

“A new CIC fellowship program gives university graduate students unique access to Smithsonian researchers and other resources,” Ullmann wrote.

The CIC also offers the Smithsonian Institution Fellowship, which can give Maryland students the chance to conduct research and earn a $30,000 stipend.

For students who plan on attending graduate school, the application fee to other Big Ten schools will be waived, according to the CIC’s website.

“I think it’s a good idea in terms of saving people a little bit of money when they’re trying to apply for grad school,” said junior government and politics major Nina Ganti. “I know it can be an expensive process.”

Joining the Big Ten will also save money for students in other outlets with improved access to software and other shared technology.

Most notably, The UBorrow library program, a CIC service, expands access to research materials across all 15 CIC university libraries.

UBorrow will give Maryland students access to the combined collection of research materials, totaling more than 90 million volumes, Ullmann wrote.

Students can participate in a shared courses program as well. If a class isn’t available at one school, it may be accessible elsewhere, and the same can be applied to any study abroad program offered at the 14 Big Ten universities.

Since the announcement that Maryland planned to join the Big Ten in November 2012, students at various schools in the conference have lobbied for research grants and affordable textbooks, Student Government Association President Samantha Zwerling said.

The university’s introduction to the CIC will help fund academic programs, but it still plays a large part in athletics.

“I think of the location, and I can’t help but think the core elements of success are in place — players and resources and television,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said at a conference in November 2012, according to a Sports Illustrated Article.  “I would be very surprised if you look at the Maryland program in 10 years and don’t see a robust basketball and football program. I think they’ll be good,”

After the university announced the move, the Atlantic Coast Conference filed a lawsuit against the university to pay a $52 million exit fee.

However, the university will take in about one-fourteenth of the Big Ten’s revenue, which adds up to millions of dollars and increase spending despite the initial costs.

The history of the Big Ten can be dated back to 1895 when leaders from Purdue University, University of Chicago, University of Illinois, University of Minnesota, University of Michigan, Northwestern University and University of Wisconsin met to create an intercollegiate conference.

In 1896, faculty members coined the group the “Western Conference” and kept the name for more than a decade.

With three other universities joining a few years later and Michigan rejoining in 1917, the conference became the Big Ten.

The Big Ten landscape remained unchanged until 1989 when Pennsylvania State University officially joined in 1990 as its 11th member, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln became the 12th in 2011.

For the journalism school, joining the Big Ten may give the program a boost.

Broadcasting sporting events will increase exposure for athletes and student journalists, where games are often televised on ABC, ESPN and on the Big Ten Network.

Tests will transform into the Big Ten Network, a premier spot to watch Big Ten games.

The biggest change for the station is the new equipment they’ll receive during the summer, said sophomore broadcast journalism major Marissa Morris, who has worked at the station since she arrived on the campus in 2012.

“We can’t start using the equipment until we actually move to the Big Ten,” Morris said.

The new equipment will help student journalists “learn all aspects of the broadcast” and “help résumé reels and internships,” she added.

Clients can subscribe to the student-run station for a monthly or yearly fee, and the station comes with a lot of standard cable packages.

“The Big Ten is really the only one of the athletic conferences that has a vibrant television network, multiplatform network,” said Lucy Dalglish, the dean of the journalism school, in a university promotional video. “It’s really an unparalleled opportunity for our students.”

As for Morris, obtaining a leadership role with the soon-to-be Big Ten network puts positive pressure on her to succeed.

“I’ve wanted to do sports journalism my entire life,” she said. “Having this opportunity to demonstrate my work is such an awesome opportunity. It could really contribute to making my dreams a reality.”

The style in the Big Ten is typically different than in the ACC, too. Games are normally slower paced with lower scoring.

“This is an institution-wide integration with the Big Ten institutions and its academic consortium, the CIC, which is like a super-university,” university President Wallace Loh said in a university promotional video.


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