|Formerly||Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association (1907–1964)|
Big Six Conference (1928–1948, unofficial)
Big Seven Conference (1948–1957, unofficial)
Big Eight Conference (1957–1964, unofficial)
|Commissioner||Carl C. James (final) 1980–1996|
|No. of teams||8 (final), 12 (total)|
|Headquarters||Kansas City, Missouri|
|Region||Midwestern United States, Mountain States, West South Central States|
The Big Eight Conference was a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)-affiliated Division I-A college athletic association that sponsored football. It was formed in January 1907 as the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MVIAA) by its charter member schools: the University of Kansas, University of Missouri, University of Nebraska, and Washington University in St. Louis. Additionally, the University of Iowa was an original member of the MVIAA, while maintaining joint membership in the Western Conference (now the Big Ten Conference).
The conference was dissolved in 1996. Its membership at its dissolution consisted of the University of Nebraska, Iowa State University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, the University of Missouri, the University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University. The Big Eight’s headquarters were located in Kansas City, Missouri.
In February 1994, the Big Eight and the Southwest Conference announced that the two leagues had reached an agreement to merge and form a new conference. The eight members of the Big Eight joined with SWC schools Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor, and Texas Tech to form the Big 12 Conference the following year. A vote was conducted on whether to keep the new conference's headquarters in Kansas City, and by a vote of 7–5 the conference members voted to move to Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. The two Oklahoma schools, all four Texas schools, and Colorado voted for the move while both Kansas schools, Nebraska, Missouri, and Iowa State voted for Kansas City.
The conference was founded as the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MVIAA) at a meeting on January 12, 1907, of five charter member institutions: the University of Kansas, the University of Missouri, the University of Nebraska, Washington University in St. Louis, and the University of Iowa, which also maintained its concurrent membership in the Western Conference (now the Big Ten Conference). However, Iowa only participated in football and outdoor men's track and field for a brief period before leaving the conference in 1911.
In 1908, Drake University and Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) joined the MVIAA, increasing the conferences membership to seven. Iowa, which was a joint member, departed the conference in 1911 to return to sole competition in the Western Conference, but Kansas State University joined the conference in 1913. Nebraska left in 1918 to play as an independent for two seasons before returning in 1920. In 1919, the University of Oklahoma and Saint Louis University applied for membership, but were not approved due to deficient management of their athletic programs. The conference then added Grinnell College in 1919, with the University of Oklahoma applying again and being approved in 1920. Oklahoma A&M University (now Oklahoma State University) joined in 1925, bringing conference membership to ten, an all-time high.
At a meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska, on May 19, 1928, the conference split up. Six of the seven state schools (all except Oklahoma A&M) formed a conference that was initially known as the Big Six Conference. Just before the start of fall practice, the six schools announced they would retain the MVIAA name for formal purposes. However, fans and media continued to call it the Big Six. The three private schools – Drake, Grinnell, and Washington University – joined with Oklahoma A&M to form the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). The old MVIAA's administrative staff transferred to the MVC.
The similarity of the two conferences' official names, as well as the competing claims of the two conferences, led to considerable debate over which conference was the original and which was the spin-off, though the MVIAA went on to become the more prestigious of the two. For the remainder of the Big Eight's run, both conferences claimed 1907 as their founding date, as well as the same history through 1927. To this day, it has never been definitively established which conference was the original.
Conference membership grew with the addition of the University of Colorado on December 1, 1947, from the Mountain States Conference. Later that month, Reaves E. Peters was hired as "Commissioner of Officials and Assistant Secretary" and set up the first conference offices in Kansas City, Missouri. With the addition of Colorado, the conference's unofficial name became the Big Seven Conference, coincidentally, the former unofficial name of the MSC.
The final membership change happened ten years later, when Oklahoma A&M joined (or rejoined, depending on the source) the conference on June 1, 1957, and the conference became known as the Big Eight. That same year, Peters' title was changed to "Executive Secretary" of the conference. He retired in June 1963 and was replaced by Wayne Duke, whose title was later changed to "Commissioner".
In 1964, the conference legally assumed the name "Big Eight Conference". In 1968 the conference began a long association with the Orange Bowl, sending its champion annually to play in the prestigious bowl game in Miami, Florida, all except the 1974 Orange Bowl and the 1975 Orange Bowl. Instead, Big 8 representative Nebraska Cornhuskers played in the 1974 Cotton Bowl Classic and the 1974 Sugar Bowl.
Main article: Big 12 Conference
In the early 1990s, most of the colleges in Division I-A (now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision) were members of the College Football Association; this included members of the Big Eight and Southwest Conferences. Following a Supreme Court decision in 1984, the primary function of the CFA was to negotiate television broadcast rights for its member conferences and independent colleges. In February 1994, the Southeastern Conference announced that they, like the Big Ten, Pac-10, and Notre Dame before them, would be leaving the CFA and negotiate independently for a television deal that covered SEC schools only. This led The Dallas Morning News to proclaim that "the College Football Association as a television entity is dead". More significantly, this change in television contracts ultimately would lead to significant realignment of college conferences, with the biggest change being the dissolution of the Big Eight and Southwest Conferences and the formation of the Big 12.
After the SEC's abandonment of the CFA, the Southwest Conference and the Big Eight Conference saw potential financial benefits from an alliance to negotiate television deals, and quickly began negotiations to that end, with ABC and ESPN. Though there were complications over the next several weeks (some of which are detailed below), on February 25, 1994, it was announced that a new conference would be formed from the members of the Big Eight and four of the Texas member colleges of the Southwest Conference. Though the name would not be made official for several months, newspaper accounts immediately dubbed the new entity the "Big 12". Charter members of the Big 12 included the members of the Big Eight plus Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
Following the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1994, the Big Eight continued operations until August 30, 1996, when the conference was formally dissolved and its members officially began competition in the Big 12 Conference. Although the Big 12 was essentially the Big Eight plus the four Texas schools, the Big 12 regards itself as a separate conference and does not claim the Big Eight's history as its own.
|Institution||Location||Founded||Type||Enrollment||Endowment||Nickname||Colors||Varsity Sports||National Titles|
|University of Colorado||Boulder, Colorado||1876||Public||30,128||$665,000,000||Buffaloes||14||28|
|Iowa State University||Ames, Iowa||1858||Public||28,682||$452,200,000||Cyclones||16||18|
|University of Kansas||Lawrence, Kansas||1865||Public||30,004||$1,005,000,000||Jayhawks||16||13|
|Kansas State University||Manhattan, Kansas||1863||Public||23,588||$277,600,000||Wildcats||14||0|
|University of Missouri||Columbia, Missouri||1839||Public||33,318||$974,900,000||Tigers||18||2|
|University of Nebraska||Lincoln, Nebraska||1869||Public||24,100||$1,140,000,000||Cornhuskers||21||23|
|University of Oklahoma||Norman, Oklahoma||1890||Public||29,721||$968,400,000||Sooners||19||27|
|Oklahoma State University||Stillwater, Oklahoma||1890||Public||23,307||$311,000,000||Cowboys||16||55|
|Institution||Location||Founded||Type||Enrollment||Endowment||Nickname||Colors||Varsity Sports||NCAA Titles|
|Drake University||Des Moines, Iowa||1881||Private||3,164||$135,000,000||Bulldogs||18||3|
|Grinnell College||Grinnell, Iowa||1846||Private||1,688||$1,260,000,000||Pioneers||18||0|
|University of Iowa||Iowa City, Iowa||1847||Public||30,825||$1,580,000,000||Hawkeyes||24||25|
|Washington University in St. Louis||St. Louis, Missouri||1853||Private||13,995||$4,600,000,000||Bears||17||19 (Div. III)|
Full members Other Conference
|Team||Left for||Current home||Future home|
|Colorado||Big 12 Conference||Pac-12 Conference1|
|Drake||Missouri Valley Conference||Pioneer Football League|
Missouri Valley Conference2
|Grinnell||Missouri Valley Conference||Midwest Conference3|
|Iowa||Big Ten Conference|
|Iowa State||Big 12 Conference|
|Missouri||Big 12 Conference||Southeastern Conference4|
|Nebraska||Big 12 Conference||Big Ten Conference5|
|Oklahoma||Big 12 Conference||Southeastern Conference6|
|Oklahoma State||Big 12 Conference|
|Washington University in St. Louis||Missouri Valley Conference||University Athletic Association7|
College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin
Main article: List of Big Eight Conference champions
Main article: Big Eight Conference men's basketball tournament
Following are the MVIAA/Big Eight regular-season conference champions from 1908 to 1996 (showing shared championships in italics):
|Men's basketball regular-season championships (1908–1996)|
|School||Total titles||Outright titles||Years|
|Colorado||5||3||1954 · 1955 · 1962 · 1963 · 1969|
|Iowa State||4||2||1935 · 1941 · 1944 · 1945|
|Kansas||43||32||1908 · 1909 · 1910 · 1911 · 1912 · 1914 · 1915 · 1922 · 1923 · 1924 ·|
1925 · 1926 · 1927 · 1931 · 1932 · 1933 · 1934 · 1936 · 1937 · 1938 ·
1940 · 1941 · 1942 · 1943 · 1946 · 1950 · 1952 · 1953 · 1954 · 1957 ·
1960 · 1966 · 1967 · 1971 · 1974 · 1975 · 1978 · 1986 · 1991 · 1992 ·
1993 · 1995 · 1996
|Kansas State||17||14||1917 · 1919 · 1948 · 1950 · 1951 · 1956 · 1958 · 1959 · 1960 · 1961 ·|
1963 · 1964 · 1968 · 1970 · 1972 · 1973 · 1977
|Missouri||15||12||1918 · 1920 · 1921 · 1922 · 1930 · 1939 · 1940 · 1976 · 1980 · 1981 ·|
1982 · 1983 · 1987 · 1990 · 1994
|Nebraska||7||2||1912 · 1913 · 1914 · 1916 · 1937 · 1949 · 1950|
|Oklahoma||13||8||1928 · 1929 · 1939 · 1940 · 1942 · 1944 · 1947 · 1949 · 1979 · 1984 ·|
1985 · 1988 · 1989
|Oklahoma State||2||1||1965 · 1991|
|Washington (St. Louis)||0||0|
Main article: Big Eight Conference football
Shared championships are shown in italics:
|Football conference championships (1907–1995)|
|School||Total titles||Outright titles||Years|
|Colorado||5||3||1961 · 1976 · 1989 · 1990 · 1991|
|Iowa State||2||0||1911 · 1912|
|Kansas||5||2||1908 · 1930 · 1946 · 1947 · 1968|
|Missouri||12||10||1909 · 1913 · 1919 · 1924 · 1925 · 1927 · 1939 · 1941 · 1942 · 1945 ·|
1960† · 1969
|Nebraska||41||31||1907 · 1910 · 1911 · 1912 · 1913 · 1914 · 1915 · 1916 · 1917 · 1921 ·|
1922 · 1923 · 1928 · 1929 · 1931 · 1932 · 1933 · 1935 · 1936 · 1937 ·
1940 · 1963 · 1964 · 1965 · 1966 · 1969 · 1970 · 1971 · 1972‡ · 1975 ·
1978 · 1981 · 1982 · 1983 · 1984 · 1988 · 1991 · 1992 · 1993 · 1994 ·
|Oklahoma||34||26||1920 · 1933 · 1938 · 1943 · 1944 · 1946 · 1947 · 1948 · 1949 · 1950 · |
1951 · 1952 · 1953 · 1954 · 1955 · 1956 · 1957 · 1958 · 1959 · 1962
1967 · 1968 · 1972‡ · 1974 · 1975 · 1976 · 1977 · 1978 · 1979 · 1980 ·
1984 · 1985 · 1986 · 1987
|Oklahoma State||2||1||1926 · 1976|
|Washington (St. Louis)||0||0|
† Kansas would have won the 1960 title, but after found to be using an ineligible player they were forced to forfeit their victories over Missouri and Colorado, which meant that Missouri was awarded the 1960 Big Eight title.
‡ Oklahoma initially won the 1972 title, but after it was found that they used ineligible players, they were penalized by the NCAA, though they did not force OU to forfeit games. The Big Eight asked them to forfeit three games and awarded the title to Nebraska, but Oklahoma still claims these wins and this title.
The following is a complete list of the 100 AIAW, NCAA and college football championships won by teams that were representing the Big Eight Conference in NCAA- or AIAW-recognized sports at the time of the championship.
Men's basketball (2):
Men's Cross Country (3):
Women's Cross Country (5):
Men's golf (9):
Men's gymnastics (14):
Men's/Women's Skiing (14):
Men's Indoor Track (4):
Women's Indoor Track (3):
Men's Outdoor Track (3):
Women's volleyball (1):
The national championships listed below are for the final eight members of the conference, as of July 2014. Football, Helms, and equestrian titles are included in the total, but excluded from the column listing NCAA and AIAW titles.
|Big Eight National Championships|
|School||Total titles||Titles as a member
of the Big Eight
|NCAA and AIAW titles||Notes|
|Colorado||28||15||27||CU has 1 recognized football title and 1 AIAW title|
|Iowa State||18||18||18||ISU has 5 AIAW titles|
|Kansas||13||11||11||KU has 2 Helms basketball titles|
|Nebraska||23||16||18||NU has 5 recognized football titles and 1 AIAW title|
|Oklahoma||27||19||20||OU has 7 recognized football titles|
|Oklahoma State||57||21||52||OSU has 4 equestrian titles and 1 recognized football title|
The history of the Big Eight Conference straddles the era of racial segregation in the United States, particularly as it relates to African Americans.
Before the formation of the conference, three African-American brothers at the University of Kansas are the first known to have participated in organized sports for a league school: Sherman Haney played baseball for KU beginning in 1888, followed by Grant Haney and then Ed Haney, the last of whom also played football at KU in 1893. At the same time, the University of Nebraska football team had on its roster George Flippin, the son of a slave, beginning in 1891. Nebraska's football team featured three more African-American players over the next 12 years. Notable among these NU players was Clinton Ross, who in 1911 apparently became the first African-American to participate in sport in the MVIAA, following the league's formation in 1907.
Race relations in the United States, however, deteriorated in the early 20th century, and African-American athletes disappeared almost entirely from the conference in the four decades after Ross's final season at NU in 1913. The lone exception during the following decades was Iowa State. In 1923 Jack Trice became the first African-American athlete at Iowa State – and the only one in the conference. Tragically, Trice died two days after playing his second football game with Iowa State, due to injuries suffered during the game (against Minnesota). Jack Trice Stadium at Iowa State is now named in his honor. Trice was followed at Iowa State by Holloway Smith, who played football for ISU in 1926 and 1927. After Smith, the league's teams were all-white for more than two decades. (During this time all of the major professional sports leagues in the U.S. were also segregated.)
The modern era of full integration of league sports began at Kansas State, with Harold Robinson. In 1949, Harold Robinson played football for Kansas State with an athletic scholarship. In doing so, Robinson broke the modern "color barrier" in conference athletics, and also became the first ever African-American athlete on scholarship in the conference. Harold Robinson later received a letter of congratulations from Jackie Robinson, who had reintegrated major league baseball in 1947 while playing with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
In the spring of 1951 the conference's baseball color barrier was broken by Kansas State's Earl Woods, and in the winter of 1951–1952 Kansas State's Gene Wilson and Kansas's LaVannes Squires jointly broke the conference color barrier in basketball.
Nebraska was the third league school to (re)integrate its athletic teams, with Charles Bryant joining the football team in 1952. Iowa State would be next, with Harold Potts and Henry Philmon reintegrating the Cyclone football team in 1953. The following season, Franklin Clarke became the first varsity African-American football player at the University of Colorado. In 1955, Homer Floyd became the first African-American to play football for Kansas since Ed Haney in 1893. Sports teams at the remaining three conference schools (Oklahoma, Missouri and Oklahoma State) were subsequently all integrated by the end of the 1950s. Most notably, Prentice Gautt became the first black player for Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma in 1956.
Every college football team of the Big Eight was fully integrated by the end of the 1950s, and this gave the conference an advantage throughout the 1960s, as many opposing conferences had not yet integrated their sports teams. The Southeastern Conference, the last major college sports conference to oppose integration, had particular trouble against the Big Eight during its final years fielding all white teams. The first SEC school to integrate, Kentucky, did so in 1967, and the last school to do so, Mississippi, did so in 1972. During the SEC’s 8-year national championship drought between 1965 and 1973, the Big Eight teams repeatedly defeated the SEC teams in inter-conference games, largely due to their integrated teams.
The Big Eight's best season ever, 1971, ended with three Big Eight schools - Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Colorado - finishing Number 1, 2, and 3 in the final AP poll, the only season in college football history that three teams from the same conference finished in the top three rankings. During that season, all three of those teams beat SEC schools - Alabama, Auburn, and LSU - in blowout victories. In each of the Big Eight victories throughout that period, and especially in the 1971 season, the performance of each Big Eight schools’ black players, many of whom were All-Americans, was a deciding factor in their teams' victories. These players' performance contributed to the SEC schools recruitment of black players, with the result that the next national championship won by the SEC was by the 1973 Alabama team, which was fully integrated.
This is a listing of the conference facilities as of the last year of the conference 1995–1996.
|School||Football stadium||Capacity||Basketball arena||Capacity||Baseball Stadium||Capacity|
|Colorado||Folsom Field||51,655||Coors Events Center||11,065||Prentup Field (Concluded in 1980)||N/A|
|Iowa State||Jack Trice Stadium||61,500||Hilton Coliseum||14,356||Cap Timm Field (Concluded in 2001)||3,500|
|Kansas||Memorial Stadium||50,250||Allen Fieldhouse||16,300||Hoglund Ballpark||2,500|
|Kansas State||KSU Stadium||43,000||Bramlage Coliseum||13,500||Frank Myers Field||2,000|
|Missouri||Faurot Field||62,023||Hearnes Center||13,611||Simmons Field||2,000|
|Nebraska||Memorial Stadium||76,500||Bob Devaney Center||13,000||Buck Beltzer Stadium||1,500|
|Oklahoma||Owen Field||74,897||Lloyd Noble Center||11,528||L. Dale Mitchell Baseball Park||2,700|
|Oklahoma State||Lewis Field||55,509||Gallagher-Iba Arena||6,381||Allie P. Reynolds Stadium||3,821|
((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)