A Big Ten women’s rugby conference is slated to begin competition in the fall of 2012.
Spearheaded by Vaughn Mitchell at Indiana University, the unofficial Big Ten conference will have a full slate of competitive games for next season.
The conference landed a big coup in that Penn State, the most successful and highest-profile women’s rugby team from a Big Ten school, has agreed to compete. In the end, eight teams have signed on for the 2012-2013 season: Penn State, Ohio State, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State, Illinois, and Notre Dame (which doesn’t normally compete in the Big Ten).
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Nebraska are not in the conference at present.
“Our goal is to expand and have all the schools in the Big Ten compete,” said new league commissioner Laith Shaaban. “The best thing would be to have a full Big Ten. But we’re excited that the teams are committed.”
This immediately becomes one of the most impressive women’s college conferences in the country, as many women’s DI college conferences struggled to have large numbers of teams and large numbers of games.
“The Big Ten Conference is an idea I have been thinking about for quite some time now and I'm excited to see the conference come to life,” said IU’s Mitchell. “The Big Ten Conference was easy to form due to the majority of the teams coming from an existing league, the Midwest East league; leaving open spots to the two additional teams, Illinois and Penn State, that were interested in our conference. I would like to see this conference as a whole become competitive with other conferences. We strive to be the best so we need to be able to compete against the best.”
The conference will be split up into an Eastern and Western division. All eight teams will enter the playoffs - such as what happens in basketball.
One more interesting aspect of this conference is the present of Shaaban. The Chicago-based rugby administrator is not directly affiliated with any single university in the Big Ten. That was one of the reasons Mitchell reached out to him.