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updated: 9/1/2011 9:38 PM

Osborne says Big Ten place to be for stability

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Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Two days before Nebraska plays its first football game as a member of the Big Ten, athletic director Tom Osborne took a not-so-subtle swipe at his school's previous conference.

Osborne said at a booster luncheon Thursday that the Big Ten probably would still be around in 100 years because of the stability that results from the way finances are handled. Without mentioning Nebraska and Colorado's exits from the Big 12 or the imminent departure of Texas A&M, Osborne said the Big 12's revenue-sharing plan lends itself to instability.

"When there are inequities, eventually something is going to give somewhere," Osborne said. "It doesn't mean it will happen, but it makes it more difficult."

Osborne likened the Big Ten's model to the NFL's, where equal revenue distribution allows a small-market team such as the Green Bay Packers to be as viable as the Dallas Cowboys.

Each Big Ten school received $22.6 million this year -- about twice as much as Nebraska could have expected if it had stayed in the Big 12.

Osborne said the 5,000-seat expansion of Memorial Stadium will add another $10 million to the athletic budget by 2013 and that Nebraska will begin receiving full revenue shares from the Big Ten in 2017.

"When that happens, watch out," Osborne said. "We're going to be really good."

Osborne said the only downsides to Big Ten membership is that Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State have larger athletic budgets, and the state's population of 1.8 million puts Nebraska at a recruiting disadvantage.

"The way we're going to make up the difference is facilities," Osborne said. "By the time we get done with what we're doing right now, we will compare favorably with anyone in the country."

Osborne also addressed the climate in college athletics after scandals at Southern California, North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio State and Miami.

He said the cheating is nowhere near the level it was in the 1970s and `80s in the Southwest Conference. He said he suspects Nebraska lost three or four football recruits a year to SWC schools where coaches and boosters acted in concert offering cash payments and other inducements.

"People are throwing rocks at Miami and throwing rocks at Ohio State, and all these people say, `You should have known.' Well, maybe so," he said. "But I would guarantee you it's impossible. No student-athlete who is taking something is going to come up and tell you, `Hey, coach, I got $500 from this guy.' No booster who gave someone money is going to tell someone that."

There are positive developments in college athletics that get overshadowed, Osborne said. He mentioned rising academic standards and progress-toward-graduation requirements, medical care, nutrition and facilities.

He favors proposals to add $2,500-$3,500 to athletic scholarships to cover full cost of attendance.

Osborne said much of the past NCAA legislation was adopted so all schools within a division would be on a level playing field, "so Wichita State could compete with Oklahoma and Nebraska."

Osborne said he could see the day that the biggest athletic programs, such as those at BCS schools, break off from the NCAA or operate within a separate division in the NCAA.

"There will be some reforms," Osborne said. "You can be ready for it."

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