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October 11, 2018

Jim Delany

Madison Square Garden - New York, New York

COMMISSIONER JIM DELANY: Good morning. Let me start off by making a couple of preliminary comments, looking backwards a little bit, looking forward to the upcoming season and seasons, and also then provide most of the time for you to ask some questions.

Looking back to last year, certainly with Michigan playing their way to the championship game, it's a great season for them and represented us extremely well. Penn State playing its way to the NIT championship was another highlight last year.

But last year I think was our first year with our four TV partners, other than the NFL we enjoy partners across FOX, CBS, ESPN, and BTN that I think provides unbelievable exposure for our programs, big platforms, great promotion from those companies.

Attendance, 42nd year in a row we led the country in attendance. Continue to do things in scheduling and other ways to bring Big Ten fans to our venues.

One thing that we're going to be doing going forward is adopting the 20-game conference schedule. We're pleased about that. If you went back a decade ago, we had a year where we were 16, then went 18, now 20. I had a couple coaches jokes last night someday we'll be at 26. I don't know if that will be a fact any time soon.

Conference games by and large are winners with our fans, provide great competition for our players, and certainly television likes that they rate extremely well.

In the format, a 20-game format, everybody will have seven partners that they play on a regular basis twice, then six that sort of rotate. We've got three protected rivalries, Purdue-Indiana, Illinois-Northwestern, and Michigan-Michigan State. If you really inspect it closely, there's more, the closer you are to each other geographically, the more you play each other. We're going to try to leverage rivalries in that way.

Last year we exceeded three million fans for the fourth year in a row. We had 80 sellouts. For the 11th year in a row we put two teams into the Sweet 16. We've continued to move teams into the Final Four and the Elite 8. Next four years, Chicago, Indianapolis, Chicago, Indianapolis. Long-term, as noted, we'll have probably 80% of our post-season play in the Midwestern region, probably 20% out east.

We had a very successful opportunity to play in New York City, very good crowds, great excitement. We've talked to them about the future. We've presented them with a powerful promotion plan that we think, along with other conferences, if you can elevate Madison Square Garden, we think we can elevate that to the next level with regard to a college basketball post-season.

We're not going to be able to play early, but if we can play in a regular date in the out years, that would be something we would try to achieve with really strong presence 80% of the time in the Midwest. But that's part of our conference territory. We want to be in our legacy territory, as well as out east from time to time.

We have 14 coaches back, which is good news. We're looking forward to continuing working with them. We were with them last night. They're optimistic and excited about the start of the season.

This is college basketball. College basketball has been challenged, is being challenged. A lot of that is in the Southern District of New York now. It's not a good story, but we have to be realistic about it. There are issues and challenges. But we're committed to try to do it the right way.

You can change rules, but you also have to change culture if you're going to get different results. We're going to continue to recruit students, graduate students, develop students. We've had six students been National Players of the Year in the last decade, all of whom have gone on to professional careers. We're proud of them. Proud of the coaches and young people that come to our campuses. We'll see what's outcomes are, but we're excited about the way the game is presented.

This conference and the players that play on the courts right now are the number one in the peer group of the A-five number one GSR graduation rate. So we are trying to graduate students. We're trying to develop students, market the games, trying to play each other more, and we're trying to push into the NCAA Tournament after having a strong regular season.

I should say that there are challenges in college basketball, especially with regard to November and December games. We've tried to enhance that. We've tried to enhance it with the ACC Challenge, with the Gavitt Games, and you'll see this year, everywhere we play home and away games early December and late November. It has grown in an amazing way.

30 years ago we had 15 bowls, started on December 25th, ended January 1st. Today the bowl season starts earlier, you have conference championship games, goes all the way to January 10th. We have to find ways to present basketball. We shouldn't give up November and December. We're going to try to have more meaningful games, we have 22 pretty powerful games. We're not going to go to cede the college sports scene to college football. We want college basketball to be successful, while college football is doing well, as well. We've given a lot of thought of presenting college basketball through our partners, we have the cooperation of our coaches on this. I think it's going to be good for us going along.

I think others will adopt 20-game schedules, play each other more. I don't think there's anything less interesting than a bad college basketball in the month of November. We're trying to improve it.

Let me stop there and see what questions you may have for me.

THE MODERATOR: At this time we'll open up the floor to questions.

Q. What do you think the impact of the trial in New York will be on college sports in general?
COMMISSIONER JIM DELANY: I mean, it's certainly an unsettling, negative narrative. Not shocking to me. I would say there's going to be three trials. Every day there seems to be revelations. Some of them are new, some have been heard before. These are statements made under oath as a result of the FBI wire taps of hundreds of hours, if not more, thousands of conversations. Very negative.

I would say as negative as it is, there's no doubt that they are storm clouds of a significant magnitude, we have 300 Division I institutions, and we have a thousand players that are going recruited every year. While these are not isolated, I think they are, at a certain level of recruitment, at certain institutions, appear to be a pattern. These are not to be dismissed, taken seriously.

But I will tell you this, I think there are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of players who are recruited properly, and hundreds and hundreds of programs that are clean and do it by the book. But there's no doubt in certain places, at certain times, there's been a total crater in terms of approach in terms of compliance with the rules that we pass and that our institutions pass. While a lot of us have had suspicions and concerns for a very long time, I would tell you that there are a lot of people that still do it the right way.

We have a rule of law. We have due process. People will be charged. They have been charged. They will get their day in court. The theory of the government will be tested. The jury will make its decision. We have an opportunity here to get better and healthier. I hope we take advantage of that.

Q. Can you explain, since you are a lawyer, the government's case as to what makes this criminal as opposed to NCAA charges. When you talk about changing culture, how do you go about doing that when rules are in place but already being violated?
COMMISSIONER JIM DELANY: The government, I'm not going to try to interpret the government's theory of the case. I know that there's money moving across state lines. I know there's statutes that are intended to protect institutions. There's the prosecution decision that this activity crosses a line.

That's a question better left to them. I haven't practiced law for 40 years. I read the same papers you do. So your understanding of their theory is probably as good as mine.

As far as culture and rules are concerned, I think it's always been an issue probably going back, Dave Robson wrote a book, if you read his book about college football in the 1890s, there always have been these issues. They used to involved boosters, third parties shoe companies, commercial interests of one kind or another, agents and runners. I think there has to be a recognition that our approach can't be the same approach we took in the '80s. I don't think the colleges and the NCAA will ever get the kinds of governmental authority that it takes to break a conspiracy of silence or conspiracy of hiding their approach.

I do think we can set up evaluation processes, I think we can set up relationships with the companies that are cleaner, better, less conflict ridden. I think the coaches who coach, that are brought in to recruit, can be better educated. I think that the expectations can be clearer.

So I don't think any of the Rice Commission recommendations will solve them by themselves. I do think culture is something beyond the rules. It's about people and expectations, then institutions, NCAA and others taking action when they see something wrong.

I don't think there is going to flip in 60 days, but I do think we're in a process of change. My hope would be in future years we'll be better than we are today, because what we have today is not a good scene.

Q. Listening to you discuss this issue, it's very complex, I understand. I know you're not the NCAA, don't make any of these decisions. When you hear a year and a half ago or last fall when this came out with a shoe company is involved brazenly with buying athletes, why would the NCAA certify any events connected with that company going forward until such time that they prove they're not flouting the rules of the NCAA? I think a zero tolerance policy or it's going to continue to happen.
COMMISSIONER JIM DELANY: I agree with you. I don't know what their certification process is. I think they're intending based on the Rice Commission to move evaluation processes in different directions. That's in the process of being formulated. I think you're going to see more evaluation on our campuses in areas where we have more control.

I agree with you. This didn't happen overnight. This has been going on for 30 years. It really wasn't much of an environment like this in the '80s or '70s. They had different challenges. It's not news to anybody who covers it. It's not news to anybody who recruits in it. It's not news to anybody who tries to oversee it. It's not a pretty situation.

Having said that, I have to tell you there are a lot of men who work in a lot of programs who don't engage in it, but there are some who do.

Q. You mentioned going forward with the conference tournament, 80% will be in the Midwest. Are you speaking about Chicago and Indianapolis or other Midwestern cities?
COMMISSIONER JIM DELANY: I think Chicago, it's great to be back in Chicago. It's the number three market in the country, number one to Big Ten. We're fortunate to have Chicago and Indianapolis. Two of the great college basketball towns, college sports towns in the country.

After we get out in four years and put a plan out and send it, think it will be more open and more competitive. There will be other opportunities for other cities to express interest. There's no plan to put Indianapolis and Chicago, great cities, but there will be a competitive environment and others will have a chance to comment on their interest in the out years.

Q. You talked about third parties, boosters. There's clearly a black market, whatever you want to call it, for players that are talented. Why is there a thought that there's anything other than paying players that's going to alleviate these problems?
COMMISSIONER JIM DELANY: Because while there is a certain portion of compromised players, compromised programs, I don't think anybody would dispute that, we are in a business that is student based, education based. I think we have over $200 million of financial aid, most kids don't go pro, but some do. To be honest with you, there should be more access to professional sports. We have it in baseball and other sports. We have different kinds of rules. Those are a function of who can go pro is how good you are, but it's really the players union and the owners who prevent that.

I'm very pleased that the NBA, it's at least taking up the rules that prohibit access by young players to professional sports. That's not the business we're in. We're in the business of creating opportunities for men, for women, for white guys, black guys, international guys, international women. We have 10,000 athletes, 200 some million dollars of financial aid, 300 teams, 28 championships. That's what we do. We do have a problem in certain parts of our sports programs. And there is a black market. It's not a new black market. I mean, it was there in the '70s, it was there in the '40s. I spent five years as an NCAA investigator in the '70s.

COMMISSIONER JIM DELANY: It was a different problem then. It was a booster problem. We don't have a booster problem, but we have a corporate problem. Before you throw the baby out with the bath water, say the only answer is to have a draft, pay players at certain colleges, that will solve it. You have a situation in the NBA where you have players caps. You have a variety of other mechanisms. People violate that. They lose first round draft choices. People in many cases are broken timber. We do have the rule of laws. There's being tested in the courts. Like the cases in New York, we'll live with the outcome. People have access to the courts. We've won some, we've lost some. We got one in California that's ongoing now. It will go to the Supreme Court.

I think our way of doing business is justified, justifiable historically. We'll see whether or not college sports will be college sports 10 years from now. It's being challenges in a lot of different ways. In the interim, until those decisions are rendered in New York, California, or by the Supreme Court, we'll try to manage and provide as many quality educational opportunities as we can, notwithstanding the fact it's an imperfect system and people are imperfect as they try to work through it.

THE MODERATOR: Commissioner Jim Delany, thank you very much for your time.


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