Big Ten Conference Football Media Days

Monday July 24, 2017

Jim Delany

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Jim Delany, Big Ten Commissioner.

JIM DELANY: Thank you. And welcome to our 47th kickoff week and our 127th college football season.

Before getting into my remarks, I would like to acknowledge the passing of Wayne Duke, the Big Ten's fourth commissioner who served from '71 to '89. Wayne had a fabulous career in many, many ways. Not only did he create this event, but he also chaired the men's basketball committee for four years. I think he was the last four-year chairman.

He was a great supporter of the Rose Bowl and helped build it into the Granddaddy of Them All. He was also commissioner during a period of change, Title IX, deregulation of college football, and the integration of women's athletics into the Big Ten.

He was the first commissioner to hire an African-American assistant commissioner, C.D. Henry, and the first commissioner to hire a female assistant athletic director in Phyllis Howlett. So I wanted to remember Wayne for what he accomplished. He was a really giant in the world of commissioners at a period of great change.

Let me say a few things about Big Ten football. I think we're in a great place. We're popular. Our students are doing well academically. The Big Ten placed number one as a football conference with the APR.

Six of Big Ten teams are in the top 11, APR nationally. And all 14 are among the top 65 ranking, the only FBS conference that could say that. We've qualified for the college football playoff in all three years. We've played in five of the six New Year's Day games. And last year we played in four of those games, the first conference to do so.

So both academically and athletically I think Big Ten football is in a great place. We have great coach leaders and great players who are also very good students. So we look forward to 2017 with anticipation.

Let me paint a little bit of the picture a little bit of a vision where we are with regard to policy reform and also with regard to litigation. In both cases, I made some statements about five years ago with regard to policy and our regulatory system.

I characterize it as being created in the '50s and stuck in the '70s, and we've worked very hard in the last five years to bring it into the 21st century.

Also five years ago, which was a few years after the O'Bannon case had been filed, I said we were in the early innings, maybe in the first or second inning with regard to litigation.

And in today's world I think we can more properly characterize it as perhaps being in the seventh inning. We've got some successes behind us. We've had some settlements over cases that are less principled. And we have a big case on the horizon with regard to the Jenkins case. Jenkins, like O'Bannon, I think is a matter of principle and will be litigated to its conclusion.

But let me go with the policy side first, because we have made some progress here. It's not easy to make progress in this area. There's a reason it was stuck in the '70s, mostly because competitors sometimes have a hard time collaborating. People like to maintain the advantage that they have, but I think it's important to note the progress that has been made.

One, the Big Ten has adopted a commitment to multi-year scholarships. And, two, the Big Ten Conference has committed to the return to get a degree for the students who leave before they've graduated but after their eligibility is concluded. Those are two important commitments that I think resonate and make us a better place.

At the NCAA level, we have adopted cost of attendance which needed to be done. So that's a good thing. We also have made some progress on time demands. And we also have provided access to nutrition without limitations.

So those are good things. We have some things to do in that area yet, and I hope we get there in the next three or four years. We need more access to internships and opportunities to go study abroad.

I think we need further progress on time demands. And I think we also need to identify the gaps in insurance that students experience at either the conference level or national level to a minimum level of insurance coverage.

So the idea is let's get into the 21st century and let's create a sustainable and certain system for the students who participate in college athletics.

On the litigation side, the outcome in the O'Bannon case was both a trial court decision and an appellate decision. Eventually the Supreme Court will not hear that case. They turned it down.

But we can live with the outcomes in that case, where benefits must be tethered to education. We also had some success in a variety of other cases that have taken sort of less of a front page coverage variety but important nevertheless.

The Marshall case was an important win. The Keller -- excuse me, the Marshall case is important. The Deppe case and the Dawson case were also important wins. So I direct you to those, and along with O'Bannon, I think formed a foundation of a successful litigation situation.

We had three cases that we settled that I think are good for students. The Alston case, which was a gap case which resulted in almost $200 million going to students who had not received cost of education.

The Keller case, which was the EA Sports case, which I think also led to the elimination of EA Sports and the use of images and likenesses in an EA Sports-type context. And then the Harrington case which provided $60 million for evaluation and testing.

So those three cases were settled. We've had some success. And then of course the NLRB refused to take jurisdiction in the Northwestern case, and that was a good outcome.

Why is it important to continue to make progress on policy and in litigation? Because we would like to find a place where the collegiate model can provide an environment where competition, education, entertainment and opportunity can coalesce together. And certainly we weren't there 10 years ago and hopefully in the next five to 10 years we can find that certainty.

So the last item I'd like to talk about, and we'll ask some representatives of ESPN and Fox, is to talk a little bit about our television agreements.

Mark Silverman has done a fabulous job of leading the Big Ten Network. We're getting ready to celebrate our tenth anniversary. And I think it's important to note that that company has been artistic, a financial success in separating us as many as 10 years ago.

Others have emulated it. But the way that it came forward, the commitments that came forward, it's got a commitment to event equality for men and women, and in fact over the last three years, across platforms, there have been more women's opportunities for exposure than men's. And also, I think if you follow it closely, the opportunity for our schools to tell their story about education and research is sort of unparalleled.

So we have restructured and extended that deal through 2032. And then we have also struck six-year deals with CBS in basketball and Fox and ESPN in football, basketball and other Olympic sports.

So we're in a great place and at this time I would like to invite up Larry Jones who is the executive vice president of Fox, and Burke Magnus, the executive vice president at ESPN, to make some comments about these deals. We couldn't be more pleased. We've been with ESPN since its inception in 1979 and dealing with ABC all the way back to 1966.

With regard to Fox, they're our joint venture partner, and Larry and I worked together on the back of a napkin to vision out BTN, and it has been a fabulous and successful ride. Six years ago, Fox Over the Air bought the rights to our championship game. And so to have them as a partner for the next six years is gratifying and exciting. So with that let me introduce Burke Magnus from ESPN for his comments.

BURKE MAGNUS: Thank you, everyone, and thank you, commissioner. We're thrilled to be standing here today, and we're thrilled to continue, as Jim noted, a very long partnership through the Big Ten Conference, going back 50-plus years now with ABC Sports and almost 40 years with ESPN.

To have these rights and to secure a future with the Big Ten Conference was a big priority for us. To be able to enter into this new agreement and help extend the exposure for this conference as far and wide as possible in conjunction with Larry and everyone at Fox Sports and also with our friends at CBS Sports really will contribute to an industry-leading distribution for the Big Ten Conference.

As far as we're concerned, we get high quality football, men's and women's basketball and Olympic sports for all our platforms and technologies. It gives us the flexibility to innovate across platforms which we intend to do. But mostly it gives us premium content for our biggest platforms, and we couldn't be more happy about that.

The Big Ten for us enters a deep portfolio of college sports rights and including the College Football Playoff, most significantly. But more than anything, we're just so happy to extend what has been a really positive relationship over many, many years, particularly under Jim's leadership for so very long. So we're thrilled about that and I think we'll be around a little bit later on for questions.

JIM DELANY: Thank you, Jim.

LARRY JONES: I don't have to say anything. Burke just said everything I was going to say except the college championship game that we don't have. We're very, very excited. This was part of a strategy that has taken us 10 years to accomplish, as Jim said. I think we're celebrating the tenth year anniversary of the Big Ten Network, which started our relationship with the conference. And six years ago we extended it and did a deal to acquire the rights for the Big Ten Championship.

And now we're so excited to be able to extend now our relationship to include a very robust regular season package that will allow games to be on the Fox Broadcasting Network, Fox Sports 1, Fox GO, all new technologies.

We have the flexibility in this deal to work with the Big Ten and the Big Ten Network to be able to experiment with new technologies and production and try to break through all the clutter of television. Television is in a constantly transitional state with all the different platforms. And when you can acquire the rights of a conference that has so many strong brands, it gives you the opportunity to make a statement. It rounds out our whole college presence and we have, and basketball now, to join with our Big East and some Pac-12 basketball.

So we're really very excited. It's a great opportunity. Fox Sports and ESPN have shared packages in the Pac-12 and the Big 12. We're healthy competitors but sometimes we say we can play in the same sandbox, and this is a good opportunity again to be able to work with ESPN to promote a great conference.

I will be back there with Burke and Jim if there are any questions. Thank you.

JIM DELANY: For those who will be in New York for our tip-off basketball media day, we'll have CBS with us at that time. And also Larry and Mark and Burke will be with me outside the hall when you conclude your questions of me at noon.

Q. Why is now the right time to announce this? Obviously we've known about it for a while.
JIM DELANY: Right. We really have labored in bringing our agreements to maturity. And it's been very interesting, because if you go back, I guess, just 11 years, we had all of our rights under one umbrella, the ESPN umbrella. And with a dozen or so games with CBS.

So, you know, the management of the scheduling and the selection process was pretty straightforward. But when you add the Big Ten Network and then you add Fox and you add ESPN and CBS, in basketball you have four important partners, in football you have three.

And the selection process on the content is, I wouldn't say tricky, but sensitive. And so as you move through discussions to achieve an agreement, any change in one area requires you to go back to others. And so it's really just the elongation of getting the T's crossed and the I's dotted that has taken longer than we had anticipated.

Q. I know Bill will address this issue tomorrow, but just interested from the commissioner's standpoint as the targeting rule as an ongoing subject among college football, I'd like to get your take on whether or not you think there will be further discussion, or are you guys happy with it right now? Where do you stand from the Big Ten commissioner's office's perspective?
JIM DELANY: The first point is we've made a lot of progress not only in adopting the rule but also implementing the rule over the last number of years.

The discussion in the rules area and in the application of the rules is players' safety first and foremost. In doing that, we're always trying to figure out how do you use the replay in a way that's fair to the player, keeps the player safe, but also allows for the review, if there's been a mistake or an outcome which, upon review, shouldn't be sustained.

And so I'm happy with where we are. Bill Carollo, who has been a long time NFL official, has led our conference since 2009 and really leads the replay discussion nationally, will be up here tomorrow and probably would be the expert and the best person to get into any of the inside officiating discussion on this point.

Q. Commissioner, how would you gauge the response to your Friday night football schedule? Seems like a little bit of pushback on that.
JIM DELANY: I think it's fair to say there's been pushback. It led us to open up even more communication with the high school directors. We do have some, what I would describe as non-Labor Day Fridays. We have two of them. We've been doing Labor Day Friday for a number of years, probably since the middle of the decade, maybe around 2006 or so. That that never really created a lot of controversy.

And we actually thought that with, I think, eight of the ten FBS conferences telecasting a little bit on Friday that that would be okay. But we did get pushback.

We've worked to mitigate by very early selections. I think you'll see selections probably in October preceding the season, number one. And number two, to work with the high school athletic executive directors to mitigate.

So this year we have two games that are Friday non-Labor Day, Ohio and Purdue and Nebraska and Illinois. So we'll continue to work with people to try to mitigate any negative impact in that area.

Q. There was a report last week from an athletic director in the FCS that indicated that there would be an exception where FCS teams could find their way back on to Big Ten schedules in years, I believe, when they had four home games in conference. Are you able to share with us if that's an accurate reflection of the way it's setting? And how do you feel about the benefits of bringing FCS teams in some cases back on your schedules?
JIM DELANY: As you know, we had adopted a policy of no FCS for a variety of reasons, including to enhance television and to strengthen packages for season ticket holders and also to enhance television product, and also to impress the College Football Playoff committee. So we had really four reasons.

Now after watching things play out over the last three years, we noted that we were the only conference to go totally in that direction. We have never really gotten there because we had long existing contracts. When we went to nine games, we did not anticipate the problems that some of our schools would have in years that they only had four conference home games -- it was very difficult for them to get three FBS opponents on to their schedules if they were looking for seven home games.

So we have modified it. And what we will do is allow our schools at least the opportunity to schedule an FCS game in years where they have four conference games. So we won't have more than seven -- a number of schools indicated they won't be taking advantage of that opportunity. But I expect we'll have three or four.

If you look at the national landscape, we have a number of conferences that are 13, 14, 15 games. So we'll probably still have the least number, but we'll probably have a moderate number in the area four to seven going forward.

Q. Kirk Ferentz is now the longest tenured coach in the nation. How would you judge his success on the field and the impact he's had on the sport over the last 20 years?
JIM DELANY: Kirk is a special guy, special coach, has had consistent success at Iowa, has been, I think, a leader not only on the field but off the field. I've gotten to know him in a good way over a couple of decades and have tremendous respect for him as a leader of young people, as a football coach and as a consistent coach leader.

So I count him as a friend and I count his contribution as a college football coach among the very best in the country.

Q. I asked Mark about this, but when it comes to the new TV rights and having as many partners as you do for football, navigating some of the night games and also the marquee games, how has that process been? And do you expect to see more in terms of night games in terms of some of those marquee games?
JIM DELANY: Yeah, you know, we've made what I would describe as progress on prime time over the years. If you go back to the '80s we might have just had a couple. In previous years, we probably have that number up to maybe the high teens. I expect that number to probably be in the low 20s.

As we prepared for this negotiation, we not only did a lot of research but we spent a lot of time with our institutions to identify what they thought they could do in this area, because we weren't about to sell something that we didn't think we could do. So in concert with athletic directors and university presidents, each school sort of identified what they thought they could do.

And from that we were able to identify what we were going to be able to do with our partners. So I expect there to be more prime time. I think there's a handout. If you haven't received it, you will receive it, that sort of identifies ABC and Fox and ESPN, what we expect them to do in the future area.

And as I noted, in answer to Teddy earlier, just the whole process for identifying and selecting and notifying in that category of games, that was pretty important and I think now as it stands a pretty well-defined process.

Q. Obviously in April Indiana instituted a policy banning athletes with histories of sexual assault or domestic violence. Have there been any more conversations or discussions about a league-wide policy on that? And is the idea to continue to leave it to institutions? Can you discuss why that would be?
JIM DELANY: Yes. Prior to Indiana's announced policy, we have had several discussions over the years. We recognize that some conferences have adopted policies, adjusted policies, and I think our presidents as well as our athletic directors and faculty just feel like facts and circumstances are different in different cases and that our institutions are really best positioned to both make those determinations and make those decisions about whether or not somebody's prior conduct qualifies for disqualification or some other penalty associated with admissions. But that the conference office, A), doesn't have the facts, and B), grinding a policy together in a way that could be easily implemented across 14 institutions and 2,500 incoming students annually would be sort of a heavier lift than what they felt we could do well.

Q. You mentioned having four teams in the New Year's Day games for the first time. What are your impressions of the depth the Big Ten has been able to build through coaching hires over the past few years?
JIM DELANY: I think we have good depth, good coaches, great players, and each year is hard to predict, each year writes its own story.

So I'm always reluctant to be overconfident, but I think what we have in place in terms of coach leaders and players, venues, television, all conspire together to give us a great offering to college sports.

College football has never been healthier, but it's also never been more fragile. We have health and safety issues. We have litigation issues.

So I'm not wanting to say we don't have challenges, because we certainly do. But if you just look at Big Ten football, its reach, the followership, the leadership, the quality of the student playing college football, it's a pretty outstanding collection of abilities and positives.

So I think we're good. And we really look forward to the 2017 season with great anticipation.

Q. Five years ago the sanctions against Penn State were announced. What is your view of the difference in Penn State post sanctions five years later?
JIM DELANY: Well, yeah, that's exactly right -- five years ago, in 2012 -- I stood up here and did my best to represent the conference, represent Penn State, trying to understand the challenging circumstances we all found ourselves in.

My first thought was we need to get through this, we need to embrace Penn State. They are a member of the Big Ten. We want them to be a member of the Big Ten and return to health.

It hasn't been an easy road. There's been litigation and we work closely with Senator Mitchell in the monitoring process.

We got the NCAA to moderate their sanctions. Certainly we had friends who were held to account by the courts of Pennsylvania, very good friends in the process.

So it's been a difficult, difficult road for the institution, for the department, for the friends and for the Paterno family. So I would say, in totality, it's maybe the most difficult set of circumstances I've ever been asked to participate in and assist with.

Having said that, I can look anybody in the eye and salute Penn State for the progress they've made, the seriousness with which they've treated this issue, the education that has been absorbed, the changes that have been made by various people, including President Barron and Sandy Barbour and a variety of others.

So it's been an incredibly difficult time. I think the university is one of the great ones in the country. I think the culture is one of the great ones in the country. And it's obvious that, maybe the least important is how good their football team is. But their football team is now healthy after having come through sanctions over the last five years. They've got great leadership, great players, and we're really happy that they've gotten to the other side, if you will, after five years.

But I don't think anyone forgets about the victims or the circumstances that hurt a lot of people. So it's been a tough road to go. But I think we're on the other side.

Q. You ran through the history of litigation at the start. If Chris Spielman wins his lawsuit what would that mean for Ohio State and Big Ten college athletics?
JIM DELANY: We're not a party to all of the cases that I mentioned; pretty much all the cases I mentioned, we are a defendant. What I've tried to say from the beginning was that people have the right to bring a case, and people have the responsibility and the right to defend themselves. So I don't know the facts of that case. I think that case will get worked out, but I really don't -- from a Big Ten perspective -- I really don't have a comment.

I've tried to look at the water under the bridge, what we've won, what we've settled, and then also to identify Jenkins as one of those cases that has to be litigated to the end.

I'm really not, even though I read the USA TODAY or the newspaper's version of this case, I really don't know a lot of detail about it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

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