Illinois lawmakers want third in-state Big Ten school

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

Illinois State, Big Ten member? Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Illinois's and Northwestern's new league rival?

It sounds far-fetched -- to put it politely -- but two Illinois Republicans argue that high admissions standards at the two current in-state Big Ten schools mean that the state should explore if another state school (like ISU or SIUE) could earn an invite to Jim Delany's league.

"'Big Ten,' to me, means a top state school,” state senator Michael Connelly said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “There's a lot of pride in that ... Indiana, Iowa [are] swooping in, and they're taking some of our really [academically] talented kids out of the state — and sometimes for good.”

Connelly and co-sponsor Matt Murphy have introduced a bill that would study if positioning another state school for a Big Ten invite is feasible. A commission of higher education professionals, legislators and students would report back to the legislature next January if the the bill passes.

Connelly said he believed that with some state help, either ISU or SIUE could improve both academically and athletically enough to become a Big Ten school. Suffice it to say that that is not something we would be able to believe.

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