ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) -- In a
room on the ground floor of its sparkling new headquarters, the Big Ten
Conference is putting the final touches on its version of Cooperstown.
It's not quite a Hall of Fame. The Big Ten Experience is a shrine to
the conference's athletic and academic achievements. Fans will be able
to relive some of their favorite moments through a series of interactive
exhibits when the museum opens in the spring or summer.
"This kind of exhibit exists in many of our campuses, and it allows
us to create a zone for capturing the past and telling our story,"
Commissioner Jim Delany said.
It's a story that dates to January 1895, when leaders from Purdue,
the University of Chicago, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern
and Wisconsin gathered at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago to outline a
blueprint for administering athletics.
An opening date for the museum has not been set, but in a preview
last week, this was clear: At a time when players are trying to
unionize, with former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter at the front
of the pack, and with former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon leading a
federal lawsuit seeking millions from the NCAA, the Big Ten Experience
is focused simply on achievement.
The museum is about the success of the athletes and teams along with
their accomplishments away from the field. This year marks the 100th
anniversary of the Big Ten Medal of Honor given to one male and female
from each school based on their accomplishments on the field and in the
classroom. All are recognized here.
The first thing fans will notice when they walk in is a giant screen
in the middle of the room. Press a button and a three-minute film on
Indiana's Assembly Hall pops up. Press another and watch 80,000 fans
morphing into human pogo sticks at Wisconsin as "Jump Around" blasts
through Camp Randall Stadium. Each Big Ten member submitted a video
providing the back story behind a tradition or a sport.
Turn to one wall and behold a mock basketball court with each
school's logo, a button by each one allowing fans to hear calls of major
moments. For Michigan, it's Rumeal Robinson hitting two free throws in
the closing seconds to lift the Wolverines to the 1989 NCAA
One touchscreen lists every Big Ten and NCAA championship team and
individual winner for the current academic year. On another, visitors
can see everything from tight finishes in football and basketball to
huge dunks and Heisman Trophy winners and Rose Bowl highlights. Every
Sports Illustrated cover featuring a Big Ten team can be seen on the
An interactive video game allows fans to catch a football from, say,
an Ohio State quarterback or try to stop a soccer ball or hockey puck.
There are also athletes' personal stories, and details about
community outreach along with the research and innovations taking place
on campuses. Notable Big Ten alumni such as Gerald Ford (Michigan) and
Neil Armstrong (Purdue) are featured.
"When we moved into the new building, we were thinking about our
100-year history and thinking about the student-athletes," Big Ten chief
communications officer Diane Dietz said. "We realized it was just in
file cabinets and in people's heads, and we thought our schools do it so
effectively. Each one of them tells their story so effectively, but
nobody was bringing to life the conference history and the conference
The museum's opening date has not yet been announced.