Big Ten Conference Football Media Days

Tuesday July 26, 2016

Jim Delany

THE MODERATOR: Now joining us is Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany.

COMMISSIONER DELANY: Good morning. It's good to see everybody. In particular, I want to thank everybody who is at the first conference media day but also to recognize those who have made all five media days. I know you've been away from your family for three weeks, and we appreciate you hanging in there and the coverage that you provide.

Before I get started, my comments, it's incumbent upon me to simply mention the obvious. Life is fragile. We lost Sam and Mike this week. Major loss of life. It has impacted everybody, each one of our conferences.

We met yesterday with our athletic directors and faculty and coaches. So it's on everybody's minds. It's on my mind. And I just want to be clear that hearts are broken, and our prayers and thoughts are with Mike and Sam and their families.

I want to welcome three new coaches to the Big Ten: Lovie Smith, D.J. Durkin, and Chris Ash. It's great to have Lovie back in this area, and it's great to see and two young coaches who have had recent runs at Ohio State and Michigan to provide leadership at Maryland and Rutgers. That's terrific.

The other loss we experienced this week is the loss of Dennis Green, who as you know was the first African American head coach. Five conferences, Northwestern in 1981. And he went on to a great career in college football.

We lost him too early, but I think it's important to recognize the contributions he made here and other places during his career.

Just a couple of brief comments on operations and reform issues. These are really means to the end. The end is to provide healthy opportunities for thousands of young people. But we have been working hard on the operations side relative to compliance. We work hard every day to be best in class in that area.

Football television schedules are kicking in this year. Our 1910, more conference games, better nonconference games. Our media rights agreement. We've been working very hard for the last four years to make progress in those areas.

The eastern initiatives are kicked in and progressing well.

On the policy side we've committed in the last year or two to multi year grants, cost of attendance, return to college and degree completion. We've increased student voice and vote at the A 5 level.

We have a variety of student health initiatives including going into the fifth year of the research collaboration with the Ivies. We've achieved the $30 million research project with the NCAA Department of Defense that many of our schools are leading on.

We're in the second year of our independent spotter program. And finally, all 14 of our institutions have filed their concussion management plan with the NCAA. These are simply means to an end.

It's obvious that litigation is a new normal in Big Ten. Cases speak for themselves. I'm not here to litigate any of those except to say we're making progress in those areas. Some of those cases are in the seventh or eighth inning; some have just been initiated. We've won some. We've settled a couple. A couple have been split decisions.

One in particular may go to the Supreme Court, and we'll know that in October. That's the O'Bannon case which we've been monitoring since 2009.

But rather than focus on the litigation and the legal arguments, I'd like to spend most of my time this morning talking about intercollegiate athletics, its history, its present, its future, and I think importantly to compare and contrast it to the Olympic movement, which many people compare us to, and the professional sports model, especially football and basketball, which many people compare us to and would like us to be more similar.

Intercollegiate athletics has changed in multiple ways. It's uniquely American since its inception in the late 19th century. It's really gone from a movement from predominantly male, white, and regional to gender fair, diverse and global.

Of course many of these progressive evolutions are, relatively speaking, quite recent, reflecting welcome changes in the American social norms.

We went from a world with few opportunities to ones of tens of thousands of opportunities for the many. It's important to understand that we will continue to evolve and there could be outcomes that have potentials dramatically change the social, cultural, and societal impact of college sports.

As we approach the 121st year of Big Ten football and 126th Summer Olympiad, I'd like to pause and reflect upon where we've been, where we are, and where we might have been if not for the existence of college sports.

My dad, my brother, my sons, my nephews have all participated in college sports at one level or another. However, not my mother and not my sisters.

In fact, if we're honest with ourselves, we have to acknowledge for the first 70 years of college sports, it was a systematic exclusion at most of our institutions, both directed towards women as well as towards many minority groups.

During my tenure at the Big Ten, I've had the privilege of hiring 39 colleagues who were former student athletes from Division I institutions who played in 15 different sports.

Let me just mention a couple of those people because they're in important decision making positions around the country, and I think without them and without the experience they had as students and athletes, they wouldn't be where they are today. And they are simply examples of many other people who have had this experience.

Charles Waddell, the last three sport letterman at North Carolina, earned his MBA, all American NFL player, was assistant commissioner of the Big Ten, now deputy athletic director at South Carolina.

Robert Vowels, Duke law degree, football. Tennessee Human Rights Commission. Commissioner of the SWAC. Athletic director at the University of Detroit.

Wendy Wilkinson Fallen in our office. Michigan '95, gymnast all American, associate commissioner Big Ten.

And Brad Traviolia, Northwestern 1990, MBA 1995, wrestling all American, deputy commissioner.

Duer Sharp, Wisconsin '91, winner of the team's leadership award, assistant commissioner of Big Ten, commissioner of the SWAC.

Andrea Williams, Texas A&M, 1997 two sport letterwoman, Sweet 16, both sports, associate commissioner. Now commissioner of the Big Sky.

Diane Dietz. Diane is Michigan, 1982 law degree. Basketball all American. Four time captain, practiced law. Senior executive contest, deputy commissioner Big Ten.

MBAs, law degrees, corporate executives, conference commissioners, deputy commissioners, male, female, black and white.

Anyone would be proud of the contributions these individuals have made, and each one of them to a person would speak to the experience that they've earned, both as students and as athletes.

What would it look like without these opportunities? There will be 10,000 athletes at the Olympics about every four years. That's about the number of athletes that participate in the Big Ten every single year.

If you look at Major League Baseball, the NFL, Major League Hockey, NBA, WNBA, less than half that number participate in all of those sports, and less than four percent of those athletes are female.

Over a four year period, the 9600 athletes in the Big Ten will receive over a billion dollars in direct financial aid. That's a billion dollars. Over the next six years, a billion and a half dollars. How many of these people would enroll in college if not for athletics, especially first generation students? How many would graduate debt free, especially middle class students? How many would stay in school once enrolled, especially at risk students without appropriate academic support?

Today the average debt for the average Big Ten student is $50,000 per person. That's a billion dollars in 10 years if 70 percent of the student athletes in this grouping each assume that debt.

The average lifetime impact for those not earning a bachelor's degree is $1 million less than those who have. Assume for a moment that 30 percent of these individuals over a ten year period chose not to or were not enrolled. That's over $10 billion of lost income.

Yes, intercollegiate athletics remains at a crossroads. There is still much to debate. But because so many professional, Olympic, and college contests are telecast and because so many of the participants are exceptional athletes, some would like to see college sports operate like the NBA or the NFL. These models are related, but they're actually quite different.

College athletics has been and continues to be rooted in education. The mandates and the motives in sponsoring college athletics are different than the Olympic movement and they are different than the professional sports.

Our schools must comply with antitrust, labor law, Title IX, the federal law which mandates equality for men and for women. It has a cultural place in America that should not be overlooked, discarded, or underrated.

Everyone has a role. We will continue to do ours to evolve, but we also believe it's incumbent for professional sports to evolve. Especially football and basketball.

To increase choice for high school students hoping to pursue athletic opportunities with professional leagues that don't necessarily require academic progress or have Title IX obligations. This would require professional football and basketball to do what baseball, golf, and tennis now do, which is actively invest in minor leagues or circuits below the majors, eliminate age requirements that restrict access and open unions to students who want to pursue sports immediately following high school.

College and universities should not be the exclusive grounds for training Olympic or professional athletes. This additional choice could be a win win. High school students deserve a choice. Not every preprofessional teenage athlete would choose college if other options were available. Choice matters.

For those who do choose the college path, the opportunities are many. Everyone can benefit by mixing and increasing choice, opportunity, education. All of us will benefit.

Former United States Secretary of Education Artie Duncan once said, quote, I'm a believer in the value of college sports for both men and women. I can think of no other institution apart from the military that does as much to shape our future leaders as college athletics. Thank.

You for your time and I'll take your questions.

Q. The NFL announced that they're going to look into penalizing teams that don't follow concussion protocol. Could you ever see the NCAA having a college sports wide concussion protocol where they actually punish teams for not following that protocol, and why haven't we seen that yet?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: That's a great question for Mike Emert. Number two, we work closely with our doctors and trainers, and we have expectations that they will follow the concussion management plan that we have. We have three university presidents who are neuroscientists, presidents at Ohio State, Michigan, and Rutgers, all neuroscientists that not only at those institutions but the conversations they've had with our presidents.

There's an incredible emphasis on following those concussion management plans, and they'll be monitored on a week to week basis. And in part, that's why we have an independent spotter program to coordinate with them to make sure we're doing everything we can to make sure that the experience is as safe as it can be.

Q. What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of having a six year media rights deal, and do you intend on being around to renegotiate?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: No and yes. No is to the second one. I have a lot of energy, and I have a lot of interest in what's going on in the college space today from the operational issues, reform issues, and the existential threat.

So I will be around for a bit. Whether I'm around here for six years is probably a little bit beyond how I see it.

In terms of the six year period, that's really where the market was for us. Were there entities that would go longer, fine. But it's a balance between security and the dollars that can be generated in the short term.

So we've done 20 year deals in a joint venture. We've done 10 year deals. But in this case we thought six provided us some mid term security and the opportunity, and we have the confidence in what we have to be out there again. Things are changing, as you know, and they'll continue to change.

But we thought six years for us was the right place to be.

Q. How do you feel about the possibility of moving future semifinal games off New Year's Eve, and would you be willing to move the Rose Bowl to accommodate semifinal playoff game?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: We've had those discussions, and they've been constructive. And I think we're all realistic in terms of the impact that New Year's has had on the semifinals especially in the previous year.

With regard to the Rose Bowl, I think there may be some movement for other bowls that I don't foresee changing in how the Rose Bowl is sequenced and to the college football playoffs.

So the answer is I realize the challenge. There may be changes in the offing, but I wouldn't expect those changes to impact the Rose Bowl.

Q. The Pac 12 and the SEC has transfer bans for serious misconduct issues. Do you foresee the Big Ten ever adopting that or are there discussions about that sort of rule?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: We have had discussions on that. Ever is quite a long time, but I would tell you that as we've looked at it, we've talked to our athletic directors, our faculty and presidents, we've had outside legal counsel as well as experts on the Cleary Act and Title IX. And we believe the facts and circumstances closest to the ground are the places those decisions ought to be made.

I think just as you've seen these policies executed and in some cases they work, in some cases they fail to work. So we've got a lot of confidence in the commitment by our institutions. Totally committed to reducing and if not eliminating violence, sexual violence in every way.

And so we will continue to have those discussions, but we have made the decision that, based on the facts and circumstances being local, that's the best place for these decisions to be worked out.

Q. There have been some reports out there of new numbers for the Big Ten TV deal. Are those numbers accurate? And regardless of what they end up being, is there any room for negotiating the payouts to Rutgers and Maryland and Nebraska, other integrated members, or are those contracts set in stone no matter what the numbers end up being before 20, 21?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: As you know, it's the policy of the Big Ten not to confirm media numbers. There's always speculation. People always leak. Sometimes they're really accurate. Sometimes they're high and sometimes they're low.

What we do is what we need to do by law, we conform to the requirements, file 990s. Steve Berkowitz does this for all of us to give us insight into what's going on in different conferences. And we'll do that.

In terms of the financial integration, there's of course the academic, there's the competitive, and there's the financial. And those deals were agreed upon at the time. They're all a little bit different. Everybody was kept whole from where they came.

And then when there's full financial integration, they will all be full financial members, and that's equal number of years for each of the six year process. But the deals that were negotiated were all negotiated on the basis of keep us whole, keep you whole, and after six years of being a member of the Big Ten, you'll then become a full financial member.

Q. This is just one measure, but in the 2016 recruiting rankings, the east had the four top recruiting classes. In 2017, five of the top six recruiting classes are East Division teams. What is your belief in that you have the correct division alignment right now, east and west, in terms of competitive balance and what could ever lead to rethinking that?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: As you know, as we move from 11 to 12 and then 12 to 14, we've taken two different routes. The first route was what I would call competitive based, not a geographic base, but we didn't quite have the spread.

The most recent spread change when we went to 14 was geographic. I think we were cognizant on the first go around of almost having a draft. The top four split them up, the next four split them up and so on.

In this one, it was pure geography. If you draw a line, and that was the decision, that was discussed, debated and decided. So I don't expect that to change in the short term.

And could it change? The word ever is a long word and could it ever change? I guess there could be a discussion, but there's no present discussion to make that change.

And I think things are a little cyclical. I mean, if you look at other conferences who have experimented much longer than we have, you had a 10 or 12 year run by the eastern group in the SEC and then a 15 , 10 12 year run by the west. It looks like the east is getting stronger. We have some great programs in the west who have won national championships, that have won big bowls, that have found themselves in the top five and ten rankings in the country, have great coaches, great resources, great brands.

So I suspect over time there would be parity. Maybe not as much parity as a set of divisions that were maybe negotiated and drafted, but I think there will be benefits of parity in the system.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

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Rev #1 by #188 at 2016-07-26 16:57:00 GMT

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