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Big Ten set to approve nine-game schedule for 2016

MADISON, Wis. -- As early as next week, Big Ten presidents and chancellors will vote on and likely approve a nine-game league schedule starting in 2016, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez told CBSSports.com.

A 2016 start allows Rutgers and Maryland a two-year transition and Big Ten membership time to plan non-conference scheduling before adding a league game. The chancellors also could vote on divisions, which ESPN.com reports will be a geographic split starting in 2014.

Alvarez said he believes the nine-game vote will be a formality and wasn't sure of the exact date but thought it was next week, early May at the latest. CBSSports.com has left a message with a Big Ten official for clarification on the date. The league's spring meetings take place May 13-15 in Chicago.

The league previously discussed a 10-game schedule but will opt against it.

The challenge for a nine-game schedule is finding seven home games in years when a school plays five conference road games instead of four, Alvarez said. The math will force each league team to sacrifice the extra league home game every other year.

Wisconsin has taken a stand against scheduling Football Championship Subdivision schools, so starting in 2016, the Badgers' non-conference schedule will include at least one or two schools from a BCS conference and a smaller-conference opponent from the MAC or elsewhere, Alvarez said.

“To improve our league football-wise, we all agree as directors and driven by our commissioner (Jim Delany) that our non-conference schedule has to get better,” Alvarez said. “[Delany] is going to the table to re-negotiate TV contracts and we have to improve that inventory. Our non-conference schedule is not strong at all.”

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