AAU Gives Nebraska the Boot


The University of Nebraska has the dubious distinction of joining a major sports conference while at the same time being removed from a prestigious academic organization. The American Association of Universities, consisting of 62 private and public research schools in the United States and Canada, has removed Nebraska from its membership rolls. Nebraska was removed from the AAU as the university was unable to fulfill certain membership requirements according to the Columbus Telegram.1

Charter Members

Cornhuskers are shucked from the AAU.

The AAU was founded in 1900 and includes such charter members as Yale University, The University of Chicago, the University of California Berkeley, the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin. All 11 current members of the Big Ten Conference are AAU members and Nebraska, set to become the twelfth member, will not bring along AAU credentials to the Big Ten when it joins this summer.

Nebraska’s exit represents the first time a school has been dismissed from the AAU. Admitted in 1909, Nebraska’s century long tenure was not enough to stem its ouster. The two areas where Nebraska has trailed and what ultimately cost its position was competitive research funding and its share of faculty in the National Academics according to the May 2, 2011, issue of “The New York Times.”2

Syracuse Leaves

This wasn’t the first time Nebraska was threatened with expulsion. The university’s position has been unstable since 2000 when the school was warned that it wasn’t meeting standards and was placed under review. A second school, Syracuse University, voluntarily left the AAU.

The AAU doesn’t bestow special benefits to its members although the argument can be made that the organization’s prestige is what attracts and keeps members. According to the Times, AAU membership can help schools attract faculty and it allows university presidents to meet twice annually with their colleagues.

Medical School

Working against Nebraska were a few other matters including the school’s medical college which is administered separately and might have bolstered the university’s cause. The school also has a significant share of its faculty tied into agricultural and extension work, which is not competitively funded.

In 2010, the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) was invited to join the AAU, the first new member in nine years.


1 Columbus Telegram; Kaufman: No AAU, no Problem for Husker Athletics; Josh Kaufman; May 2, 2011

2 The New York Times; American Universities Group Votes to Expel Nebraska; Tamar Lewin; May 2, 2011

Photo: Wikimedia


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