Two state senators want to weigh the pros and cons of seeing another Illinois university become part of the Big Ten Conference. Republicans Matt Murphy of Palatine and Michael Connelly of Lisle say the University of Illinois has become highly competitive, and applicants with good grades and test scores wind up attending another conference school outside the state. Their plan would form a task force to look at the feasibility of bringing in another state school, like Illinois State University or Southern Illinois University. The plan would consider only public schools, not private ones. Bunker Hill Democratic Senator Andy Manar is a co-sponsor of the plan:
"They can have a discussion, they can begin to identify the challenges on how this could be done, and maybe take steps in the future to figure out if there's a school in Illinois maybe the next time the Big Ten expands, and if they do, I think we ought to have somebody in the mix. I think that would be a good thing for the state - all parts."
One problem with getting this done could be finances. Some state schools, including the U-of-I, are looking at budget cuts around 12-point-5 percent. Manar says the fiscal impact is ‘negligible’ at this point. And expanding the Big Ten is up to the Conference, and not legislators. It's already expanding to 14 this fall with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers. The measure was approved by a Senate committee last week. If approved by both chambers, the task force would include members from each of the four legislative caucuses, a student paying out of state tuition to a Big Ten School, and a student from Illinois who's left the state to attend another school in the conference. The panel's report would be due in January.
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