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November 20, 2012

Robert Barchi

Jim Delany

Sally Mason

SCOTT CHIPMAN:  We're joined today by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney, Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors Chair and University of Iowa President Sally Mason, Rutgers University President Robert Barchi, and Rutgers University Director of Athletics Tim Pernetti.  At this time I'd like to introduce President Mason to make some opening comments.  President Mason?
SALLY MASON:  Thank you so much.  This has been a rather remarkable week for the Big Ten Conference, and I want to personally welcome President Barchi and the athletic director at Rutgers to the Big Ten Conference.  We're so pleased, so thrilled and very excited as you can imagine to welcome Rutgers, another great public and land grant university to the Big Ten Conference.
ROBERT BARCHI:  Well, let me say that on behalf of Rutgers that we are just delighted that the Big Ten has accepted our application, and we thank President Mason and her colleagues for welcoming us to the conference.  We are delighted to join you both as an athletics teams and as an academic enterprise.  Frankly we look forward as much to the collaboration and interactions we're going to have as institutions as we do to what I know will be really outstanding competition on our fields of play.

Q.  Jim, you mentioned as we were watching the press conference in Piscataway that the TV and cable revenue wasn't a driving force behind this.  I'm curious if you could go into a little more detail about what was beyond the academics?  Is it something specifically about New Jersey?
JIM DELANY:  I was just quibbling with the characterization.  I just thought there was an overemphasis on that aspect.  So whether you use the word driving force or whatever was used, I just thought the amount of words devoted and the emphasis were a little overplayed.  I never suggested that Big Ten Network or ESPN aren't factors.  What I tried to say was it didn't drive the decision.  The decision was driven on a much more macro level.  We made a decision, we tried to maintain for many, many decades‑‑ two decades, the 11.  We then went to the 12.  We thought that was the right place to be.  We explored the collaboration.
All the time we had a Big Ten Network, but that didn't necessarily drive us to go someplace else.  What drove us to go someplace else was just the fact that there's a paradigm shift and that institutions that get together for academics or athletics have got to be cognizant of the fact that they are competing for students, they are competing for student athletes, they are competing for research dollars, they are competing for the best levels of collaboration.
Additionally they have to pay for broad‑based programs, and my only point was that there was far more emphasis on television than there was on the institutional connectivity.
Once we made the decision to explore going outside of our region, which we did as a result of the paradigm shift, not for cable TV dollars or anything else, we then looked to see where we ought to go, and in looking at Maryland and looking at Rutgers, it's self‑‑ it's obvious that there are rich demographics.  They are great political institutions, great financial institutions, great high schools, lots of people, including 500,000 Big Ten alums in this corridor.  We thought that that was the place that we wanted to be if we could achieve it.  If we couldn't we knew we were happy with our membership and we knew we were happy with our structure.
But once the presidents and the athletic directors decided that this was an initiative worth pursuing, thinking about Penn State as a bridge because they had been with us for two decades, we pursued it.  My only concern was not that it was not a relevant factor, but it wasn't the driving factor.

Q.  Growing up in New Jersey you know what the market is like as far as being a pro sports area.  Was there any concern for you at all that there are times during the year where Rutgers is not generally part of the conversation throughout the casual sports fan in the state?
JIM DELANY:  My vision is that there's no incompatibility between not only academics and athletics if it's done well and no incompatibility between very successful intercollegiate programs sitting side by side professional sports.
I think what has been missing in the East quite honestly for many, many, many decades is a consolidated effort by institutions to impact the marketplace and the visibility, and the example would be you can be an Illinois fan and a Chicago Bears fan; you can be a Wisconsin fan and a Green Bay Packer fan; you can be a Minnesota Viking fan and a Minnesota fan.  It happens all the time, a Cleveland Browns fan and Ohio State.
But what I think Rutgers and maybe to some extent Maryland haven't had is the sustained build.  They haven't had partners to do it with.
Now, with Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin coming into this, I think over time we can create awareness; we will never dominate; that's not the point.  But I think we can be impactful and build each other up as a result of the partnership.

Q.  Can you just elaborate on the paradigm shift that you said drove the Big Ten to make these changes?
JIM DELANY:  Yeah, I think if you look at what's happened over the last decade, every conference I think with the exception of the Ivies and maybe the MEAC have changes.  I don't know the percentages of institutions and conferences touched, but it's been a remarkable amount of migration, and it really goes all the way back to the Big East.  Where did the Big East come from?  Those are independent or ECAC schools melded together in '79 for marketing purpose.  Penn State coming to the Big Ten, we just thought ‑‑ there was no analytics done, we just accepted them, they wanted to come in, we wanted them to come in, and we stayed there 20 years.
But what's happened over the last decade is every major conference has established a presence, and in some cases in non‑contiguous areas, and in other areas in contiguous areas but what are markedly culturally and socially considered to be, quote‑unquote, other regions.
So when you see a southern conference in the Midwest or whether you see a southern conference in the Plains States or whether you see a southern conference in the Midwest or the Northeast and that impacts the recruitment of students, it impacts the recruitment of athletes.  It impacts the recruitment of officials.  It impacts everything that you do.
And so the response would be, okay, let's see what's going to happen.  Let's see how we're doing.
And then at a certain point you get to a tipping point, the paradigm has shifted, and you decide on a strategy to basically position yourself for the next decade or half century.  And our decision was let's explore collaboration with the Pac‑12 as the first instance.  Let's see what others do.  But at a certain point, you wake up, you go in, you began to plan and you say, what is the counter to what's happening in the paradigm shift?  And for us it was looking at adjacent states with AAU, major research type institutions in an area that would help us recruit students, recruit student athletes, collaborate academically, and we know this is not going to happen quickly.  It's a long‑term play.  But I will tell you, I believe that these institutions and our conference will look different 10 years from now in a very positive way as a result of this.

Q.  I just have a question in regards to what would be the timeline on all the programs joining the Big Ten Conference?  Would it be immediate, or would it be‑‑ like what would be set up in terms of the transition phase?
ROBERT BARCHI:  Well, I think as it relates to the transition phase, we're going to work as productively as we can with the Big East Conference on our exit.  I spoke to Commissioner Aresco earlier today; we had a very good conversation.  But certainly we want to try to do our part to leave where we are in a good place as we move forward and enter into the Big Ten Conference.  But that's an issue we plan to work through with the Big East.

Q.  This question is for Commissioner Delany and President Mason:  Are you guys worried about what kind of impact this will have on some of the big‑time traditional rivalries of the Big Ten that may be lost with some of the new scheduling?
JIM DELANY:  I'll take a shot at that.  Sally is not spending a whole lot of time on schedule as he was at the University of Iowa.  I will tell you this:  Tradition is really, really important to us.  We're 117 football seasons.  We've had multiple generation after generation after generation of followers, not only attending our universities but also following our teams.  And so I think that does not change one bit.
I do think, though, that as you add members, you have to seriously consider adding more games so as not to dilute how often you play each other.  So that means to me both in basketball the football, the issue of more games, more conference games is squarely on the table to be discussed.  At the end of the day we're going to have to resolve that.
But you know, it is going to be a factor both in scheduling football and basketball.  But I think that by being creative and by being committed to playing each other more that we're going to be able to arrive at a fair balance between on the one hand incorporating new institutions in new regions with historic Big Ten, but also to do so in a way that maintains, insofar as possible, repeating the games that are meaningful to our fans and keeping and building integrated marketing for our universities as well as for our sports teams.

Q.  I was wondering when it comes to the Big Ten Network, I assume some of the thinking is now cable operators in Maryland as well as New Jersey could be charged at the higher footprint in‑state rates.  Is that the case?
JIM DELANY:  First of all, I think the integration of these institutions is down the road.  We have existing agreements with our partners.  We've got many, many partners, and many of them have customers in this area, and I would say as we get closer, the conversations will begin, and I'm sure they'll be constructive, and the hope always is that you can find a rational ground that works for both partners.
But we don't make any assumptions on that, and so when the time is appropriate, we'll have those conversations.  But I don't think it'll be happening in the next weeks or maybe even the next few months.  But down the road I'm sure those discussions will play out.

Q.  Would you have a preference if you go from eight games, would it be to nine or ten games?  Is either one more attractive than the other?
JIM DELANY:  You know, I have strong feelings about scheduling, but I never get what I want on scheduling, and so I could tell you what I think personally, and I like to play‑‑ I like to have Big Ten teams play more often.  Normally coaches on the other side of that discussion, athletic directors, kind of mediate the two points of view, and as we try to get the collaboration up and going, I ask them to wait to see if we could do it so I had them on the sidelines for almost eight months.
Eventually released them because they're having to build schedules to position themselves for the new playoff.
Now we have moved forward with very excited two new members.  I think we've got to put it back on the table to discuss.  My question is how much flexibility they'll have because on one hand I held them up, then we released them, then they've gone out and done a lot of scheduling, many of them to upgrade their schedules with national opponents, now I'll have to pull them back in and say where are we, let's look at the matrix, let's look at the grid, let's see where we are, and on the nine ‑‑ the beauty of the nine is we get to play more, the negative it's a five home, four away combo.  But it still allows with sort of creative scheduling our schools to be able to build seven‑game home schedules, which makes the budgeting process doable for many of them.
Going to ten is a real paradigm shift because it would be five and five and there's only two other games, and I think that would create levels of difficulty.
At the end of the day I think probably nine, but I know there will be discussion of eight and ten, but I think there's a reasonable possibility in time that nine is probably the right, but it's not a perfect number, either.

Q.  My question is for Commissioner Delany:  What is the look of the divisions?  Where will the schools be put, Legends, Leaders, that kind of thing?
JIM DELANY:  Yeah, there has not been conversation one on this issue, notwithstanding the reports that were in the media yesterday, that somehow that we've either thought about it or even made a decision.  So I would expect our athletic directors to look at this issue early in '13 and hopefully have a decision later in the spring.
But I can tell you that I think that since we arrived at a set of compromises that the quality is high up of preservation of rivalries second and geography third, and I think it's realistic to believe that geography will play a bigger role simply because now we span from the ocean to the Colorado border and from the Canadian border to the mid‑South.  So we're really pushing the limits.  We are a national conference in many ways, but even geographically we're spread, and as a result I think that geography will have to play probably a more important role in the evolution of the next divisional structure.

Q.  My question is for Commissioner Delany.  I know with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland, there's been some discussion or chatter about possibly adding lacrosse.  Could you talk about the possible addition there?
JIM DELANY:  Yeah, I know how important lacrosse is in this area of the country in particular in the Washington‑Baltimore area and in the Long Island area and New Jersey area.  It's actually an emerging growth sport in the Midwest.  I think with Rutgers, I think we have six‑‑ I think we've got six women's teams and five men's teams, and I would expect that conversations on beginning a Big Ten Championship on the women's side would happen pretty quickly, and on the men's side I would hope we would be able to either pick up a sixth team or to create an emerging competitive structure that accommodates.
So I think it's on a great growth curve nationally, and I know we're in the hotbed of it, and so we'll work very hard with our new partners, our new members to make that happen, and I think it also will accommodate those sports on our other campuses.

Q.  Just a quick follow‑up in regards to how that might affect with the Big Ten Network and getting out to that area in the mid‑Atlantic and Long Island.
JIM DELANY:  Well, you know, I don't know.  I said it's on a great growth trajectory.  I'm not sure how much impact it'll have on distribution.

Q.  What does it mean to add a school from New Jersey and what do you remember about Rutgers athletics when you were growing up in the state?
JIM DELANY:  Well, you know, I don't know what you mean what does it mean.  We're just excited about it.  We think it's a great match, a great university, located in a contiguous state that shares some of the same‑‑ many of the same values that we have in undergraduate education and research.

Q.  I meant personally from you, from your background as a New Jersey person.
JIM DELANY:  Well, I'm proud to be a New Jersey person.  My dad was a high school teacher in Newark, I grew up in Newark, I was born in Newark, I learned a lot of lessons in Newark that still serve me well today.  So I'm proud of it, and I'm proud that Rutgers is a member of the Big Ten, and I feel like I've come full circle.
I told somebody that I'll be home for Thanksgiving whether I get back to Chicago or get stranded here.  Either way, I'll be home for Thanksgiving.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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