Originally written on College Spun  |  Last updated 3/29/15
Wisconsin has great athletics, and its top academics help the Big 10 come out on top in this ranking. (Twitter/@StadiumJourney) Power conferences in college sports have been realigning for the past few years. Now that the dust is finally beginning to settle, we figured we’d focus on the other part of college athletics…ya know, the whole academics part. We do this because our favorite college sports teams are comprised of student-athletes—not just athletes. With that in mind, we ranked each of the power conferences in terms of academic prestige. The players on the amateur teams that we love to follow do not just leave college with aches and stories from their playing days; many leave with degrees. Academic prestige also plays a major role in recruiting, both in attracting prospective athletes and, unfortunately, keeping some athletes out of universities based on academic standards. Ever wondered which conferences are the most prestigious purely in terms of academics? Wonder no more, here’s each power conference’s average ranking on the list of the world’s universities. Check it out: 5. Big 12: 299.5 Average Academic Ranking of its 10 Universities.4. SEC: 241.57 Average Academic Ranking of its 14 Universities.3. ACC: 196.46 Average Academic Ranking of its 15 Universities.2: Pac-12: 67.33 Average Academic Ranking of its 12 Universities.1: Big 10: 61.14 Average Academic Ranking of its 14 Universities.  We used the Shanghai Ranking System, a highly in-depth formula which ranks academic prestige in terms of entry standards, success of alumni and the recognition of students and faculty (awards, nobel prizes, highly cited research, published papers, etc.) to form this list. The system ranks all universities in the world (only the top 500 academic universities are published). There is a detailed ranking system for Universities 1-100. Once the ranking gets to over 100 it goes by groups: 101-150, 151-200, 201-300, 301-400, 401-500, 501+. All schools over 100 got rounded to the highest ranking in their respective grouping. For example, if the school is anywhere between 201-300 it gets credit for being No. 201 on the list. All schools with a ranking over 500 were given a 501 ranking in our calculations.   We listed each member of the five power conferences (with their new 2014 members) and took the average of each university’s ranking from this years’ Shanghai Ranking System (It changes/updates every year).   The Pac-12 and the Big 10 are clearly on their own, way out in front of the other power conferences.   For fun, we ran the numbers for the Ivy League (8 Schools), too. Its average academic university rank is 34.15, and if Dartmouth is taken out, the Ivy League’s average ranking is as high as 15.25.
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