Academic profile: Not a member of the Association of American Universities but only New England public university with schools of law, medicine, dentistry and social work; 66th (tied with Rutgers) in the U.S. News and World Report National Universities rankings (ahead of Iowa, Indiana and Michigan State)
Why it would fit: Picking Connecticut would boost the league’s profile in the New York/New England area. UConn is new to Division I football (2000) but it boasts a new football stadium, built in 2003. UConn is competitive in the Big East, going to bowl games the last three years. UConn’s proximity to ESPN (Bristol, Conn.) can’t hurt the league’s national profile. UConn’s men’s and women’s basketball programs are national powerhouses.
Why it wouldn’t: Connecticut doesn’t bring an established big-time football program to the league, and football is driving the Big Ten’s expansion efforts. UConn isn’t an AAU member, which does have impact on Big Ten presidents.
Final verdict: At first blush UConn is an outer-rim candidate because it’s located outside of the traditional Big Ten setting. But the school has plenty of upside and the expansion decision is based more on the league in 2040, not 2010. If the league goes to 16 teams and wants to gain traction in the Northeast, it could do worse than Connecticut.
YouTube Moment: A video tribute to the 2010 UConn women’s basketball team.