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BIG TEN CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT
November 19, 2012
SCOTT CHIPMAN:¬† I'd like to thank all the media for joining us today and ask you to limit follow‑up questions to one per person.¬† We're joined by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney; University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman; University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh; University of Maryland Chancellor Brit Kirwan; and University of Maryland Director of Athletics Kevin Anderson.¬† At this time I'd like to introduce Commissioner Delany to make a statement followed by a statement from President Coleman.
JAMES DELANY:¬† Thank you, Scott.¬† I would just like to say today an historic moment for the Big Ten and the University of Maryland occurred.¬† Wallace Loh on behalf of the University submitted an application to the Big Ten Conference, presidents of the Big Ten met around I guess it was probably 10:30 and 11:00 and unanimously and with great enthusiasm accepted that application.¬† So we're here today to talk about it a little bit.
I would simply say Maryland is a remarkable institution in so many different ways, and we're proud to embrace them today, and we look forward to working with them in future years to enhance their growth, to enhance our growth.¬† They're a great flagship public institution, ranked extremely highly in every way a university can be ranked.
I noted maybe one of the great global populations, a third in‑state, a third out‑of‑state and a third out of the U.S., and they're in a tremendous area for us in the nation's capital, in the state of Maryland, and this corridor is rich with Big Ten alums.¬† So I'm really excited about it.
With that let me pass it on to President Mary Sue Coleman, who's been a long‑standing leader at the University of Michigan.
MARY SUE COLEMAN:¬† Thanks so much, Jim, and Brit and Wallace, I just want to say welcome into the Big Ten.¬† Of course I know both of you extremely well through our memberships in the AAU, and Brit, from your time in the Big Ten, and Wallace, from your time as provost at Iowa.
We are very pleased.¬† We have enormous respect for the University of Maryland, and we think that this is going to be a very good alliance over time.¬† So welcome.
Q.¬† Jim, you're not going to give away the numbers on this, but the Big Ten Network has been so successful.¬† Is a big part of this the fact that you're already on in New York, you're already on in Baltimore and D.C.; is this about getting in footprints of these by having these schools there or even getting on a better tier in those areas or any areas?
JAMES DELANY:¬† Let me just‑‑ I read your column yesterday.¬† I read your column all the time, really, and appreciate your insights.¬† Let me just say that the Big Ten Conference is a conference of tradition.¬† It's had a great history.¬† This is our 117th season, and as I look at where we've been and where we're going, I would postulate the following:¬† We have great universities that sponsor sometimes modest teams, sometimes good teams and sometimes great teams, but our universities are always terrific places.
And our success has been in part, in large part, powered by the demographics of the Midwest.¬† We had an industrial sector, we had a great bread basket of America, and demographics change and shift.¬† That wouldn't necessitate us changing one iota.¬† But I know that there's been a lot of change in intercollegiate athletics in the last decade, and one of the paradigm shifts relates to conferences moving beyond their boundaries.
We stayed with 11 institutions for 21 years, so obviously we were cautious and conservative.¬† After some debate and discussion we added Nebraska, and we were quite happy to do that.¬† We actually explored expansion through a collaboration with the Pac‑12, benefits of expansion without really getting out of our footprint.¬† It didn't work.
We've continued to see these kinds of moves.¬† Every one of the five conferences is outside their natural footprint.¬† We looked at that and we thought, you know, we need to explore how we might become larger, and when we looked around, we realized that there's this corridor rich with people, great political institutions, great media institutions, great financial institutions, great high schools, and yet it's a very competitive corridor.
And so what we reached out and had discussions with Maryland, you can't‑‑ you have to be straight on it and say, well, what does it mean for them and what does it mean for us.¬† In the context of what it means for both of us, we don't know where television will be 10, 15, 20 years down the road, but we do know that fan bases matter.¬† We do know that demographics rich with people with great institutions matter.
So I'm sure that we'll have conversations and we'll look to enhance the distribution of the Big Ten Network.¬† We're available in 92 million homes; we're probably in 53.¬† We're in 26 countries, and we're available globally wherever high speed internet exists.¬† So that's obviously part of the calculation.¬† But you would not go there unless, A, there's been a paradigm shift, and B, you had a great partner to do it with.¬† So we think both of those things have led us to where we are.
So I think as a subset to your question, an answer to your question, it's a very relevant factor, but it's not why you do something; it's kind of an accompanying reason to get out of your footprint.
Q.¬† We ask this of every commissioner when this happens:¬† Just concern about damage that might be done to other leagues, particularly the Big East.
JAMES DELANY:¬† Yeah, you know, these are friends and they're colleagues.¬† I guess what I can say best is we've tried to be restrained over the last decade.¬† As I mentioned, we spent 20 years at 11, and at the time Penn State was largely an independent, and then when we went with Nebraska, we avoided any impact in established leagues, the Big 8, Big 12 was coming apart.¬† Four institutions left within weeks of each other.
And so we're conscious of that.¬† I would have to say, though, that we've tried‑‑ we did the collaboration with the Pac‑12 hoping to get some of the benefits of expansion without any damage to anyone else, and to be honest, there is a fact, there is an impact, and if you don't acknowledge the impact you're not being straight.
I wish it weren't the case, but obviously you have had lots of change in the Big East.¬† Most of it has been a function of change in desire change by the ACC, but also the Big East has then reached out and impacted many, many other conferences.
So it's not the nicest side of what we're dealing with.¬† It's a fair question, and I would say to the extent that anybody is hurt in the process, I wish that weren't the case.¬† But I would also say institutions pursue their own destiny and conferences can be receptive or not and we've been cautious and conservative as we've tried to make our changes and mitigate that as best we could.
Q.¬† Jim, living in the 95 corridor, I constantly encounter naysayers among fans who believe this area can never, will never switch from a pro‑dominated area into something that can really entertain a healthy interest in college sports.¬† I don't necessarily believe that, but what do you say to that?
JAMES DELANY:¬† I think it's going to be a challenge.¬† I think it's a fair statement to say that that corridor hasn't embraced college sports, especially college football, with the exception probably of Penn State, like it's been embraced in the Midwestern part of the country.
But I also would say that I'm not sure there's been a strategy to address that.¬† I'm not a pessimist or an optimist by nature, try to be realistic.¬† But I really do believe that the University of Maryland is‑‑ if you were looking at it as an asset, is a buy and a hold because I think that they've got a ceiling here that hasn't been approached recently but can be a very, very nationally competitive football environment.
Why?¬† Because they've got great tradition; because they're in a great population area; because there are a lot of great players here.¬† And I honestly think we can help them achieve that. ¬†I they can help us achieve things.¬† When you introduce Penn State into the equation, and today is Maryland's day, but there may be other considerations that will assist us in really building a presence in this corridor.¬† Maryland is Maryland and Penn State is Penn State, and I do believe that together that we're a conference that now lives in two areas of the country; one Midwestern, one mid‑Atlantic, and that we together have an opportunity to have an impact.¬† I don't say reverse people's loyalty toward the Jets or Giants.¬† But I know in Chicago and I know in Detroit and I know in Cleveland that we're able to identify a followership, that we're able to be successful, and whether it's in the Green Bay Packers or whether it's the Vikings or whether it's the Bears, they also love their college sports, and I think we can build that same base in this area.
Q.¬† Is part of the philosophy that they're just exposed to a league where college football is so important, where there are 90,000 and 100,000 people coming to games, that that can shift around the whole template?
JAMES DELANY:¬† I think it's that.¬† It's really more than that.¬† I mean, it's basically concept of contagion and synergy, where you bring parts that have never really interfaced before and you build them together and you market them together and you build experiences and loyalty and quality.
There's some great venues this way.¬† I think television plays a part in it, licensing, marketing, I think academic interface.¬† I think that while it's very natural for people to reject and push change away and Maryland and the ACC have had a great history, I think over time we're going to be able to build a foundation.¬† I think we've got to be sensitive to how people feel, but I also think there's going to be new opportunity for all the parties to really enhance ourselves and really provide the public in this area exposure to maybe some college football they haven't seen before.
Q.¬† When you guys expanded in 2010, I think Big Ten fans were generally excited, especially when it turned out to be a traditional power like Nebraska.¬† In the 48 hours since this news came out, the reactions I've had on email, Twitter, whatnot, would be somewhere between anger and apathy.¬† You expressed very clearly why this benefits the conference in the future, but in the present how do you sell this to the fans who will be seeing some of their rivals less often now, will be making certain road trips less often, and obviously it's‑‑ not to disrespect Maryland, but aren't necessarily pining to have them on their schedule?
JAMES DELANY:¬† Well, there are a variety of views on it.¬† I see it as a long‑term play for Maryland, for the Big Ten.¬† I'm not suggesting that staying status quo is not sometimes the most comfortable approach in life.¬† But I will tell you that Nebraska made sense in its way; Penn State made sense in its way; and I think Maryland makes sense in its way.¬† It is a great university with great resources, located in a corridor rich with very important things to support a university, to support a conference collective effort.
And to be honest with you, I just disagree with the viewpoint expressed.¬† I respect it, but I respectfully disagree.¬† I think the upside here is terrific, and I think that we've got a half a million Big Ten people living in this corridor and the University of Maryland has got hundreds of thousands of alumni in this corridor.¬† It's a global university, and it's connecting up as a major flagship in an adjacent state to other great major flagships, and I actually see one and one equal three, but I've been in the minority before and sometimes have been right and sometimes have been wrong, and I appreciate people's point of view.
Q.¬† Will this cause you as a conference to maybe reevaluate going to nine conference games?
JAMES DELANY:¬† I think more games is on the table.¬† I've said before, one of the reasons we stayed at 11 and then we stayed at 12 was because we loved to play each other more, not less.¬† We have a great conference made up of not only great institutions but integrated rivalries, integrated markets.¬† We're going into new markets that are not integrated.¬† We're going to build integrated rivalries, we're going to create experiences, and we're going to continue collaborate academically.¬† But to do that it may require more games, because I think our fans want to see these games, and while the Maryland fans may not be used to Northwestern or they may not be used to Iowa or Ohio State or Michigan, I think when we bring those schools here and when the alumni from Maryland and their fan base get exposed to ours, I think there's going to be an embrasure, and I think it's going to be an enthusiastic embrasure.
BRIT KIRWAN:¬† As somebody who's been at the University of Maryland a long time, one of our great football rivalries looking back in history was Penn State, and there was great dismay in Maryland when Penn State went to the Big Ten and we could no longer play them in football.¬† So it's not like we don't have some connections there in the Big Ten that will be very meaningful to our institution.
JAMES DELANY:¬† Yeah, and when we look around, we play Bowl games in Florida, and there are hundreds of thousands of Big Ten people there.¬† When we go out to Phoenix we have more alumni in Phoenix than the Pac‑12 does.¬† We've got up and down this corridor half a million people.¬† There's going to be a coming together and a combining of fan bases, but you're right, we've got to create the experiences, we've got to create the support.
But at the end of the day, and I'm not saying it's 50 years; it's not five months, either; we'll build this together, and it'll have a solid foundation.
Q.¬† This question is for Kevin Anderson.¬† I assume you've all seen the reactions from some alumni who have been highly critical about this decision, even outraged and pledged to cease their financial support of the program, and I'm wondering if you're concerned about the possibility of losing some of your donors.
KEVIN ANDERSON:¬† Well, up until today, there was just limited information about us joining the Big Ten, and now that it's come to fruition and we've had an opportunity to talk to our alumni base and our supporters, I think they'll have a different view on this.
Yes, we'll have our work cut out, but the great thing about what we're doing today with the Big Ten is that there's great schools and institutions and athletic programs that have a wealth of rivalry and success.¬† So I think that once we build on that and once we go out and tell our story that we will overcome some of that.
Will it be challenging?¬† Probably so, but we're up to the challenge, and we've thought about that, and we'll do what's right and we'll get the people that are true Maryland fans on our team, back on our team, and move forward.
Q.¬† Did Under Armour have much of a hand in facilitating this through Kevin Plank?
KEVIN ANDERSON:¬† Are we talking about Under Armour or are we talking about Kevin Plank or both?
Q.¬† Well, I guess both.¬† I know that it's a relationship that the school wants to preserve.
KEVIN ANDERSON:¬† Well, our relationship with Under Armour is tremendous.¬† What it asks our athletes to do with our partnership is compete at the highest level, and we have the most updated technical equipment that we can have.¬† But the other thing is that Kevin is a strong supporter, and I had shared things with Kevin, and we have his blessing, and he embraces the move that we've made today.
Q.¬† This is for Jim if possible.¬† Jim, what's going on as far as putting teams in Legends, Leaders Divisions?¬† How is the addition of Maryland going to affect the divisions?
JAMES DELANY:¬† Yeah.¬† You know, we spent a lot of time constructing those divisions, but we have a new member, and I expect that that would be‑‑ if not number one but maybe number two on our athletic directors' to‑do list over the next three, four, five months.¬† So what I have confidence‑‑ I have tremendous confidence in them.¬† They get in the room, they close the door, they battle out, they solve it, they walk out together, and we'll have a way of moving forward.
I think it'll get a lot of discussion.¬† It doesn't need to be done tomorrow or the next day, but I would say over the next three to five months we'll have new divisions and expect that they'll meet with most people's kind of approval but not everyone's approval because no decision does.¬† But they're very good at coming together with a plan that serves the overall interest of the conference.
Q.¬† Football fall of 2014; is that right?
JAMES DELANY:¬† Yeah.
Q.¬† If there would be one other team come in, would that also be in the fall of 2014, just saying?
JAMES DELANY:¬† Today is Maryland's day.¬† I'm not talking about any other institutions.
Q.¬† This is for Jim:¬† Hey, I had a question, you were saying that at the Maryland press conference earlier about expanding like offices into the East and in general kind of extending east.¬† What were some other plans the Big Ten had as far as creating more presence in the East Coast, and did you guys ever think about doing that when you had Penn State out here?
JAMES DELANY:¬† You know, it was a mistake not to do it.¬† Didn't even think about it.¬† I think we and others have not taken advantage of the opportunities with expansion.¬† We expected it to happen.¬† I know with Nebraska we've been far more proactive, and I know this:¬† We'll be very proactive with Maryland, and I take the responsibility for not extending the marketing efforts and that kind of thing.
I would mark it up to experience and not doing what I should have done, but a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and going forward we're going to do that more.
Q.¬† And you mentioned offices possibly out here.¬† Anything else you guys have discussed?
JAMES DELANY:¬† Billboards, alumni events, talk show radio, coaches calling coaches.¬† I've got a whole laundry list of how we can bring ourselves closer together in the short and the long‑term.¬† BTN distribution.¬† (Laughter.)
Q.¬† Could you see conference basketball schedules going to 20 or 22 games?
JAMES DELANY:¬† You know, that's an interesting question.¬† I know that coaches generally like fewer games.¬† I know that commissioners generally like more games, and I think there's probably a compromise in the middle.
So I hope so.¬† I hope we play some more games.¬† But I have a lot to do with the Bowl scheduling and not that much to do with‑‑ nothing to do with the non‑conference scheduling and something to do with the regular season scheduling.¬† We'll figure it out.¬† I like more, not less, but I know that coaches feel like it's a very challenging league.¬† But I just believe when we play each other more it's healthy and good.¬† When we play each other less, it's not as good.
Q.¬† This question is for Jim:¬† What was the impact of Penn State not only on this decision but on the process? ¬†Did they have any input or arm twisting in helping to get Maryland on board?
JAMES DELANY:¬† No arm twisting, just collaboration.¬† No.¬† I mean, Penn State is a member of our family, athletic director and president very much involved in the thought process, and then the activation of the process, and both were incredibly supportive of it.
BRIT KIRWAN:¬† And on behalf of Maryland I echo what Jim has just said.
Q.¬† Have you guys started scratching the surface for realigning teams or are you waiting for outside reasons to start that up?
JAMES DELANY:¬† We're going to have our athletic directors look at it probably early in 2013.¬† But that's kind of in their area.¬† Eventually the presidents have to approve it, so I think everybody is thinking about it hard now, but it'll be something we get to probably after the Bowl season, January, February, March, April, May, in that range.
Q.¬† In terms of academics, not sports related, how does this move benefit Maryland and the other institutions in the Big Ten?¬† And this is addressed to any Maryland representative.
BRIT KIRWAN:¬† Well, the Big Ten has an enormous advantage over almost any other conference in the country in that they have the CIC, which is a fabulous consortium of AAU and flagship universities with many visitational and research exchanges.
Q.¬† I wonder if you could enhance that comment about the Pac‑12 scheduling agreement.¬† How key was that to this happening and that not happening, or when that did not happen?
JAMES DELANY:¬† It was disappointing.¬† You know, I mean, we thought we had, in athletic terms, broken out a real creative and ingenious way of supporting ourselves and others.¬† And they're historic partners, and it was Olympic sports; it was basketball, it was football, it tied into the Rose Bowl.¬† So I can't tell you how excited our people were, and I would say there was kind of a ‑‑ when it went down, there was a lot of disappointment.
Q.¬† Would that have made expansion not needed for the moment?
JAMES DELANY:¬† I don't know if it would have made it moot or not.¬† It would have been great.¬† It was an anecdote, I think, to expansion in a lot of ways.¬† I would also say the paradigm shift in other conferences continually coming sort of out of their natural regions and part into some of our regions, I think also to be honest with you, it may not have been sufficient to stop a reaction to that.
Q.¬† This question is for President Coleman.¬† From Michigan's perspective what makes Maryland a good fit for scheduling, not just football, basketball, but from Michigan's standpoint why does this work?
MARY SUE COLEMAN:¬† Well, of course what we admire so much about Maryland is not only its great athletic tradition but also its great academic tradition, and as co‑members of the AAU, we know Maryland extremely well.¬† We like what we see.
And so for us, and particularly for me, when I think about the kind of institutions that it's important for us to play against, I just view Maryland as an outstanding partner, so for us, we're very positive about this move.
Q.¬† This is for President Coleman, as well:¬† If you could muster up your University of Iowa hat for a minute that you used to wear, what does this mean for Iowa fans?¬† What would you think?¬† Put yourself in their mindset right now.
MARY SUE COLEMAN:¬† Sure.¬† Another great partner institution with a great tradition in all ways, similar to the University of Iowa, with a great tradition.¬† Obviously we look at the demographic trends and we like the fact that Maryland is contiguous to our easternmost partner, and we just believe that this gives us sort of a seamless way to expand our ability to compete at important institutions, and Maryland is the kind of partner that we want.
So I think Iowans would be very proud of this move.
Q.¬† Is Dr.Loh still there?¬† You've got some Iowa ties, too.¬† Do you have anything to add to that?
WALLACE LOH:¬† We are looking forward to working with our Big Ten partner institutions in education and research as well as compete with them in athletics.
Q.¬† Jim, the Big Ten has always prided itself on tradition and has made a name for itself over the years by trumpeting that.¬† Making a move where you had to, as you said, build the relationships with these new members, is there any risk do you feel, any concern about the risk of alienating fans in the Midwest who are just used to that tradition and not willing to give it a chance to build these new markets?
JAMES DELANY:¬† I agree with your first statement that we do pride ourselves on our traditions.¬† I think traditions are an incredibly important part of the fabric of any organization, and particularly an intercollegiate athletic conference.¬† At the same time I take a lot of pride in the fact that we can pivot in innovative ways when strategic opportunities present themselves.¬† There are a number of examples of that.¬† We were the first to get outside of our region and maybe in retrospect that set something off, but I think Penn State expansion showed an openness.¬† I think also tradition showed us that we could wait and be patient before adding a great member in Nebraska.¬† But those are unique top‑five type football programs, also great institutions.
But the reality is we innovated with a Big Ten Network.¬† Not everyone thought that that was such a great idea at the time; not everyone thought instant replay in college football was okay.¬† We've worked well with our schools on internet, too.
So I think you can‑‑ the conference was founded in the 19th century, it prospered in the 20th, paradigms have shifted, and in the 21st century it's a global world.¬† It's a world where all of the major conferences, if not all of them, have institutions in multiple regions, and I do think that there's some risk.¬† But in making decisions like this, you weigh the risk‑reward analysis, you look at what others are doing, and you try to position yourself not for the next five months or even the next five years but really for the next five decades.
And I will tell you, I'm very comfortable with where we are.¬† I think we have hard work to do, but I also think there are benefits for the partners in this, and I think ultimately our fan base is a partner in this, and I think over the long‑term, we'll see tremendous benefits from it.
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