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Big Ten nearing new divisions; Drew Crawford stays at NU

Updated: May 21, 2013 6:32AM



There’s no reason to doubt a report that the Big Ten will torpedo the Legends and Leaders monikers for its divisions and go with East and West. The change is in line with speculation that has been going on for months.

But a final decision on divisional alignment, which will take effect in 2014, isn’t expected until formal meetings in the next few weeks, a Big Ten source told the Sun-Times on Friday.

Even Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has backed off on the Legends and Leaders designations, which initially were considered pretentious by many fans and media and were ridiculed when scandals rocked Ohio State and Penn State.

The league seems headed toward new divisional names, with East/West the big front-runner.

The West will include six Central time zone schools — Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebra­ska and Wisconsin, plus Purdue, its lone Eastern time zone school, ESPN.com reported. The remaining seven schools, all in the Eastern time zone, will be in the East: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State, plus newcomers Maryland and Rutgers, who are joining in 2014.

These groupings have been the subject of speculation for months, and it seems unlikely they’ll change. But there’s still the possibility of a tweak.

‘‘No one has indicated to me they’re ready to make anything final,’’ the source said, adding that final decisions are expected soon. ‘‘I think they have an idea, but I don’t believe they’ve voted.’’

Big Ten representatives also are expected to move to a nine-game football schedule.

NORTHWESTERN

New Northwestern coach Chris Collins got some welcome news Friday when star forward Drew Crawford said he will return for his final season.

Crawford, who took a medical redshirt last year for a shoulder injury, had been eligible to transfer without sitting out because he will be a graduate student.

“Coach Collins has brought great energy to the program, and we all believe in his vision,” Crawford said. “I’m ready to do all I can to lead this group and make my last year at Northwestern a great one.”

The 6-5 Crawford is 10th on the Cats’ all-time scoring list and averaged 16.1 points in 2011-12.

Also, Patrick Baldwin, Northwestern’s all-time steals leader, will join Collins’ staff as an assistant.



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