Two suburban lawmakers' plans to try to get another Illinois university into the Big Ten Conference was approved by the Illinois Senate Tuesday.
State Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, wants to create a committee to look at how the state could market an existing state university to the Big Ten as a candidate for expansion.
To gain admittance into the conference, a school would need approval of at least 70 percent of the leaders of the member universities. The conference will expand to 14 members later this year with the addition of Rutgers University and the University of Maryland.
Legislation to create the committee was approved by a 51-1 vote and now moves to the House. State Sen. Chapin Rose, a Republican who represents the Champaign area -- home to the Big Ten's University of Illinois -- was the lone "no" vote.
Murphy said too many Illinois students leave the state for other Big Ten schools if they are rejected by the highly competitive University of Illinois and Northwestern University in Evanston, the state's other Big Ten option.
"We want to match what the state offers with what people want," Murphy said.
Fellow state Sen. Michael Connelly, a Lisle Republican, helped Murphy introduce the plan. Connelly said Illinois State University in Normal and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville are good candidates for the Big Ten.
The Big Ten has not spoken with Murphy about his proposal, he said.