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July 24, 2013
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Commissioner Jim Delany.
COMMISSIONER DELANY: Good afternoon. It's nice to be here as we approach our 118th college football season in the Big Ten. I'd just like to make some introductory comments.
We pride ourselves on our tradition and also our ability to respond to contemporary challenges through innovation.
Examples of that go back to the creation of normal progress rules. Many, many decades ago. The creation of the advisory commission in 1972 to try to help us understand the African‑American special challenges on our campuses before they were as robustly integrated as they are today, the creation of gender equity action plan in 1992, which was directed at really creating some voluntary goals for moving forward in terms of the women's participation, the establishment of instant replay, I think a well‑thought out expansion, as well as the creation of the Big Ten Network.
So we're challenged in every decade in interesting ways.
Today we obviously have health challenges in and around the science of concussion. And in 2010 we became the first conference to adopt a concussion management plan across the conference. 2012 we entered into a collaboration with the Ivy League which culminated in a summit last week with 70 top researchers, clinicians, doctors, and trainers from 23 Big Ten and Ivy League institutions. I think you have some information on that.
And also we have adopted and endorsed the Heads Up Program by U.S.A. Football, our coaches, our institutions, and our athletic programs.
So we believe in addressing challenges as they arise. We don't always get it exactly right the first time, but we certainly are aware of our responsibilities to address challenges as they come before us in various forms from time to time.
Looking back over the last year, we had a good year competitively. We won seven national championships, had five runner‑ups, and we take great pride in our broad‑based programs. With the addition of Rutgers and Maryland, we'll be pushing 10,000 student‑athletes with athletic aid of over $150million for those students.
In the last 15 years, we're fortunate enough to have our teams win championships, national championships in 17 different sports.
So we believe in the educational model. We believe in the competitive model. And we believe in the importance of intercollegiate athletics for men and for women of all races, nationalities, and we'll continue to push for that in a variety of ways over time.
I'd like to talk just a little bit about expansion. Rutgers and Maryland will join us on July1, 2014. They'll join 12 other members. And it's sort of interesting. We were so fortunate that two AAU flagship institutions in contiguous states were able to join us.
Interestingly, New Jersey and Maryland combined are only half the size of our smallest state, Indiana, but at the same time have provided us an incredible increase in ability to recruit students, student‑athletes, have relationships with a lot of Big Ten people who already reside in that corridor, but we've had a 30percent increase in the conference's population footprint. So three percent in geographic territory, 30percent in population in an area that I would argue is one of the most important areas, not only in America, but in the world.
So we're going to be working very hard with Rutgers and Maryland and with our own institutions to make friends, build relationships, and create some momentum for our Big Ten conference athletics in that region.
When everything is finally completed and all 14 members are here, we'll have in excess of $9billion in federal research. The conference will span over 550,000 square miles, about 15percent of the Continental United States. We'll have 520,000 students under roof and 350 teams and almost 10,000 student‑athletes and over $150million in financial aid.
So the Big Ten is larger and bigger and more robust, and we couldn't be more excited about that.
As we look at the challenges of the day, we also have to celebrate the Rose Bowl's 100th game and also the Medal of Honor, which we give to our outstanding male and outstanding female athlete each year to signify both academic and athletic excellence.
It's a great piece of artwork but it also represents in each year the outstanding individual. And we're proud of that tradition as well. Going forward, we have put together a slate of national Bowl games throughout the country.
We have some new partners in San Diego and San Francisco and New York and in Miami. We have some continuing partnerships in Orlando and Tampa and Jacksonville and Dallas and also some new ones in Fort Worth and Nashville.
And with the college football playoff coming upon us in 2014, we think the slate serves our players, it serves our coaches, it serves our alumni, and serves the Bowl system.
And while we were really excited about the college football playoff as it was finally put together, the most important part for us was the importance of protecting the regular season, protecting the Rose Bowl, and seeing the Bowl system integrated into the college football playoffs.
So we're really pleased how that all worked out. And in particular there was a unanimous vote by all the conferences with regard to excess, which I think is important to keep everybody involved and also revenue sharing.
So after a lot of going back and forth, I think we really arrived at the sweet spot in terms of postseason college football.
Football just continues to get more popular. And that's a good thing. And it has its challenges. But of the sports and growth that we've seen around the country, college football has just been on a great trajectory for the last 15 years.
And I think while the BCS has been controversial and successful, I don't think there's any doubt that Roy Kramer deserves credit for visioning it. And nobody could have speculated on the extent to which it took us forth.
It was regionally popular for the most part and sometimes nationally of interest. It now is a sport that is as nationally powerful as it is within its own region.
So hats off to Roy. And I always like to recognize him because he took an awful lot of heat and criticism during the course of that time. But he was a visionary and he stood behind his ideas, and I think‑‑ at least I certainly think he should be recognized for that.
I think anybody who has been in our bubble of college sports for the last three years can't help but be fascinated by the rate of change that has affected all of us. There's good news and there's bad news. Sometimes we're able to capture the greatest finishes and the great championships. We also obviously have our problems which get the attention they deserve and we go about trying to cure them and make things better.
But I would point out that for athletic directors and conference commissioners and coaches, the highs are the highs and the lows are the lows, but we spend an awful lot of time in the middle for the athlete who is not an all‑American and for the athlete who is not going to the NBA or the NFL, for the athlete whose greatest opportunity to go to college has come through college sports and is going to class, making the rounds both academically and athletically, and that's the vast majority of the 10,000.
They're neither all‑American national players of the year, first‑round Draft choices, nor are they people who stub their toe either socially or in some other way that draws attention.
And so I think it's important to recognize both, both the highlights, the low lights, but also the fact that this intercollegiate athletic enterprise serves so many so well.
But it's also I think important to know how fast change seems to be happening. Whether it is or not, I don't know. But we've got 130 radio stations devoted to 24‑hour sports. We have an Internet which is global. We have Twitter, which has gotten from 40 million tweets in a quarter to 400 million tweets in a day. We have 200 million people that engage in that current communication. And it is with us. It has sparked revolution in the Middle East. It has aided politicians win campaigns. And it is part and parcel of the recruiting process.
And it also I think has the ability to get things right quickly. It also has the ability I think to miss the target from time to time. But we all need‑‑ all of us who are in this world need to understand that the change is not going to slow down. We're in a technological society, and everything we do from the Internet to Twitter, to the Big Ten Network, to cloud computing, to Apple TV, and to Google will continue to influence not only intercollegiate athletics, not only business, but also the media and all of the adjacent institutions, political and otherwise, that exist.
And we certainly recognize it and we'll work to manage ourselves as well as the processes that we're involved with to make it work as well as it can.
You can't lose focus of the fact that before the NCAA lost control of college football TV, we had one game on a week. So we had maybe 15 games, 65 telecasts. After deregulation in 1990, I think we had 19 games on. Today we have 80, and Big Ten To Go, as Mark Silverman probably noted, is available globally, anywhere where high‑speed Internet exists.
So that continues to be a positive. It continues to be successful and also continues to create a variety of challenges for us. But needless to say, technology is not going to change and everybody, whether you're in the media, in college sports, in politics or in business, will continue to be impacted by it.
I have to say that my background is as a former student‑athlete. My dad was a college athlete. My brother was a college athlete. My son was a college athlete. And of course all of my teammates were college athletes. And most of my career has been spent in this area.
It can't help but influencing how you think about intercollegiate athletics. And it's pushed me towards this career. And it's been a fun, satisfying, and interesting career. And it has informed how I feel and how I think about certain challenges.
I believe in amateur athletics and educationally‑sponsored intercollegiate athletics. I believe in the opportunity for young people to go to college through intercollegiate athletics, who otherwise wouldn't have an opportunity to go there.
And I believe in the equal opportunity of players and students to achieve that opportunity. These in some ways seem like maybe quaint ideals, but they're more than a quaint ideal to me.
I've experienced it. I've watched it. And I've seen the highlights and I've seen the low lights, and I've seen the challenges come and go.
Other people have different feelings. They have different experiences. They view this differently. It doesn't make them right and it doesn't make them wrong. It doesn't mean that any of us who are in the enterprise are going to dictate the outcome, because a lot of these challenges are going to play out in the courts. Some of them are going to play out in Congress. Title IX matters. Institutional culture and tradition matters.
But I think that there's a lot of momentum for the tradition, but there are headwinds out there also. And at least while I'm here, I think that the model that has been created and has served so many people over a long time deserves the benefit of the doubt.
There's a lot of discussion about the NCAA and structure. And to me, the NCAA and its structure matters some. But what really matters more than the NCAA structure is what that structure might produce in the future.
So I'd like to focus a little bit less on the NCAA structure and what it might or might not be, and focus a little bit more on four or five ideas that personally matter to me, and I think that if we're able to get these things right, we can re‑earn some of the support that perhaps we've lost in some of the conversations, some of the narrative about intercollegiate athletics.
So to the extent that the NCAA can reorganize itself, with high resource institutions or others, I'm happy for that to occur.
But if it does so in a way without addressing some of these ideas, I think we would have changed our structure but not changed the substance.
So the first issue I'd like to raise is the issue of a greater commitment, the creation, if you will, of an educational trust, either at the institutional level, the conference level, or the national level, that actually commits each institution to each student‑athlete who has been on a full scholarship, recruited there and resided there, to a lifetime opportunity to graduate.
Now, many schools provide some additional support. But what I'd like to see is an explicit commitment by higher education through the conferences for funding and also to the athlete at the time they sign, that if you come up short within the four years, if you go professional, if you drop out, that we'll stand behind you so when you're ready to get serious or when you have the time, we'll support your college education degree for your lifetime.
So that's a concept which I think has validity for the future.
I also think the second area that we really have to take a hard look at is time demands. We have a 20‑hour rule. But if you read the literature, we all know that students spend more than 20 hours on intercollegiate athletic activities.
I talked to our coaches this morning. And quite honestly, I said, "How can you help us with that?" Because it's my belief that if you're going to be a full‑time student, you have to have time to be a full‑time student.
I know athletes at a younger and younger age are asked to select a sport or either select a sport and that they train for it very rigorously. And this is not just an American phenomena. I think it's an international phenomenon.
So I want to make sure that our rules, regulations, constraints, and standards are properly balanced so that once a student is admitted, he or she has the opportunity to do what they need to do academically to continue to move forward.
Another area that I think needs reexamining is the at‑risk student. I think everybody is in favor of giving people a shot. Everybody's in favor of raising standards and raising outcomes. But I think when you admit an at‑risk student, you have to seriously consider the year of readiness.
I know we're not ready for freshman ineligibility, but I do think that we ought to be ready for looking at the issue of providing a year of residence for those students who are at risk.
Give them their four years of eligibility. Give them the financial aid they need, but let's make sure that we haven't shortchanged anyone or exploited anyone because we've taken at‑risk students and haven't given them the adequate time to prepare to transition educationally.
And last but not least, the miscellaneous expense needs to be implemented. And it needs to be implemented in a way that allows the student to engage in athletics and academics and also to receive support from the institution above the scholarship, up to the cost of education. What that number is, I'm not sure, but let me just put it into context.
1970 was my last year in college. We had a $15 a month laundry check, so that's ten months, $150. Put the CPI on that for the last 45 years and see what you come up with, and that is a little bit of pocket money that we can afford to do, that we should do. It's the right thing to do. Whether that's 2,000, 3,000, or 4,000, I don't know, but we need to address that.
In 1972, a lot‑‑ some things seemed never to change, but in 1972, we were in a recession. And the NCAA had a special convention on cost containment. Let me tell you what came out of that convention on cost containment. And there were some schools that were high resource and there were a lot that were not.
The first thing they did was they cut out the $15 a month laundry money. Now, I had graduated two years before, but I can tell you that $15 a month was about two‑thirds of my cash between the money I got from my mom and dad at home and that $15.
So I wasn't in school. But if I had been an athlete I would say, "Why are you cutting out the $15?" Because at North Carolina, we played in full houses every night. We played with pros and every game was televised, and we didn't get $15 a month. But now that we're revisiting 45 years later, it's never too late to do the right thing.
The other issue was travel blazers. A lot of you probably don't know what a travel blazer is. But you would know it if you didn't have another jacket and that was your sports jacket. They cut out travel blazers.
And then the last thing they did to contain costs was they made freshman eligible. So that was a cost‑saving device, is to take young people and put them on to the fields of play, physically able to do it, some people academically able to do it. But nevertheless a great transition. It's done today. We're probably not going to walk that back.
But I would say the year of readiness is something that we ought to think seriously about.
So restructuring, great. High resource institutions, great. But if we don't reattach and reconnect on these educational‑based initiatives, both a commitment financially, a commitment on time demands, a commitment on readiness, and a commitment on miscellaneous expenses, I don't care what restructuring comes out of it; we're not going to be where we want to be.
So to conclude, we've been helped out, supported, critiqued and that's the nature of it. We're a popular enterprise. Lots of passionate people for what we do.
And we have a night commission and we have a president's commission and we have a variety of interested parties. And we should listen closely, but those of us who are doing this on a day‑to‑day basis need to have a plan, a game plan that connects the educational and the athletic together. And we haven't always done it as well as we can, but we have opportunities to do it in the future.
Let me quote Arne Duncan, who is the secretary of education. Arne played at Harvard. His parents are faculty members at University of Chicago. And let me just quote him for a second.
He says, "I'm a big believer in the value of college sports. I can think of no other institution, apart from the military, that does as much to change our future leaders as intercollegiate athletics."
I believe that statement. He made it as a critic to the NCAA in terms of trying to get our house in order in a variety of ways.
So I am a critic and I believe in change and reform and restructuring. But as we restructure the NCAA, let's just think about restructuring the NCAA. Let's think about the outcomes that we want that will serve the athletes in the Big Ten and other places and years to come.
So with that, let me conclude my remarks. It's good to be with you. I'm sure you have questions, and thank you for listening to these comments. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Bob Bowlsby on Monday talked of transformative change within the NCAA and there was unanimity among the commissioners. This, what you just described, doesn't sound like unanimity. Is that accurate?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: Does or doesn't?
Q. Does not.
COMMISSIONER DELANY: Well, I guess my emphasis is that I'm in favor of whatever restructuring that will lead to what I would consider to be resolving or improving certain areas where I think we're weak. If we restructure the NCAA and don't address some of the substantive concerns, I wonder why we have restructured.
So I've been to the same meetings Bob has and Mike and John. I think we're on the same page. What I wanted to do was instead of just saying kinds of things that you've heard before, there's a reason why you want to restructure, and it has to do with the outcomes you'd like to see.
So I try to focus a little bit more on the outcomes that we like to see at the conference and a little bit less on whether or not the NCAA will be restructured, because you know my belief is that there's a lot of political momentum for change at the NCAA.
I don't think there's a major conference that disagrees with that. To be honest with you, I don't think there's a midmajor conference that disagrees with that.
And from all of my conversations with all of my colleagues, they think change is at hand. It's a matter of doing the detailed work on it. I don't think it's going to be very adversarial, and I don't really think that the need to threaten or walk is going to be there, because I think everybody really wants to take us to a place where we can do our business and we can all be part of a Big Ten proposition.
Q. On the miscellaneous expense, if there's restructuring, is it possible to see a day when a team that offers a stipend plays a team that doesn't? I'm thinking especially in the NCAA Tournament where that might come about. And would that matter competitively? It would matter financially. Would it matter competitively?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: That's the trick, to be honest with you. I think without getting into too many details is how we have the flexibility and the autonomy to do what we need to do but also provide structures that allow institutions that don't have the resources to compete in the same events. But clearly I think most people would believe that the high‑resource institutions are able to attract usually the better players, over time.
And so I think it is conceivable that institutions could be in the same tournament and the same competition but provide a different package of benefits based on high resource versus middle resource.
Q. When you talked about a lifetime opportunity to graduate, would it be conceivable then that 10 years later someone could come back and be granted free tuition based on leaving the university in good standing?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: That's the concept.
Q. Given the revenue disparities between the haves of the power conferences and the have nots, primarily in the sport of football, do you anticipate there needs to be some sort of separation between the two where they could still compete on the field but maybe under a different set of rules or some that are changed and adapted?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: On any of this restructuring, governance, competitive advantage, level playing field, how that gets resolved, you call it‑‑ I call it the plumbing and the politics of restructuring. That needs a lot of work.
It will require some give and take, but I honestly am very optimistic, very optimistic about this membership organization, which has been slow to change and slow to respond.
Very optimistic we'll get it. And I think we may get it within a year. And I think the conference commissioners that I've spoken with throughout the range of DivisionI are open for that discussion.
And I think it's necessary and it's a traditional organization and it needs to innovate as we all do, and I'm pretty optimistic that we do that. But I want us also to keep in mind why we're doing it and I think it's to make better connections between our athletes, the educational and the athletic experience.
Q. Is Division IV the term that you and a lot of other commissioners are talking about, and what do you think it would look like?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: I didn't hear the first part of your question.
Q. Is Division IV‑‑
COMMISSIONER DELANY: Division IV.
Q. Is that what's being talked about?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: No, not really. Not in those words. I mean, I think that the discussions have been more about we need to be able to have a structure that allows us to do what we can afford to do, with an educational model for our athletes.
It hasn't really been about being separate‑separate. There are four or five or six different kinds of groupings, small, medium, large, some with a lot of autonomy, some with less, depends upon the bylaw you're looking at. That stuff is inside baseball. I mean, I think it's got some of the same elements. You're going to need some autonomy in some of these areas, and you may need to be playing in some of the same events and same tournaments with people who have fewer resources.
So I don't think it means we have to be separate, but I think the five of us have to be‑‑ have a feeling that when we agree on something, we're going to be able to achieve it.
And it hasn't always been the case. But I also want to be clear that sometimes there is dialogue, rhetoric, call it what you want, that the reason that we're unable to achieve the outcome is because of the low‑resource schools. When in reality, if you really looked at the legislative history and the votes, we haven't always been on the same page.
And so there are schools and athletic directors and presidents in that group of five who have not been supportive of miscellaneous expenses. Some have different views. Some think it should be triggered by need. Other people think it should be an outright grant.
So I think it's too simplistic to sort of say everyone agrees with that and nobody disagrees, because I think in some cases it's too easy to say the reason we don't have what we want is because X, Y, and Z said, no, you can't have it. That's true in some cases, but not all cases.
And so I don't want to say that that explanation is the only reason we don't agree on things, because sometimes, among the five of us, we disagree and we disagree strongly. But when we're together, I think we should be able to achieve an academic standard, a miscellaneous expense, a recruiting role, because I think we‑‑ I think we should have that. I think that's a fair thing for us to ask for.
Q. What's your position on for‑profit schools joining DivisionI in regard to Pac‑12 challenging Grand Canyon's trying to join the WAC?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: I have not‑‑ I haven't given a lot of thought to that, so I'd like to give more thought than I've given to it before I gave you a reaction.
Q. I guess within the educational model, can you five be trusted with the stipend? In other words, is it cost of attendance, is it $5,000 a year, is it $10,000 a year? And when does that go outside the educational model, at least perception‑wise?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: I think that's a great question. I think the actual cost of education is a little bit different on each campus and each metropolitan area, whether it's public or private. And the gap, the last time I looked at it, varied from maybe 3,000 to $6,000.
I think from a competitive perspective, you're probably going to settle on a number, a hard number, maybe it's a number in between the two. We've talked about 2,000. We've talked about 3,000. But to put it into some context‑‑ and I haven't done this, but let's take the nine or ten months you're getting $15 a month and let's multiply that at CPI, compound it, for 40 years, and I think you're in‑‑ I don't know, if you're in five figures, but you're probably three, four, five thousand dollars, I think is probably the range both of the outside limit and also what that dollar‑‑ what those dollars mean in today's dollars.
So I think we could be trusted. I think we could figure out a way to do this. We've done more complicated things than this. But nevertheless there are a lot of different points of view on how we should do it.
Q. You clearly believe in the institution of the NCAA. I was wondering how much you still believe in the leadership of the NCAA going forward.
COMMISSIONER DELANY: You know, there's been a lot said about Mark Emmert. My own view is that Mark has done some good things. Mark has I think made some mistakes, but I would tell you this: That running the NCAA is a real challenge, and most of the problems that we confront today preceded Mark Emmert. So the fundamental challenges to institutions, conferences in the NCAA, were there before Mark ever walked into the door.
Now, the question of sequencing, he met with the five commissioners and asked us what we wanted him to do. Maybe he hasn't met with the athletic directors still recently, but he met with us. He met with our presidents. We work for presidents just like he does.
And I think that he's learned on the job. I think that the presidents in the Big Ten hire me, the presidents of the NCAA hire him. That's their call.
I can tell you this: We've tried to work with him in every way we can on every major issue that's come up. So I wish him the best and have no motive other than to see him and the NCAA succeed, but there's no doubt that we have challenging times and he's a leader of a group that‑‑ an entity that's our group, but also is responsible and accountable for in part where we are over the last three years.
But most of the challenges that we have at the NCAA predate Mark Emmert.
Q. Jim, I'm so confused, I don't know where to start. But I wanted to ask you about the Ed O'Bannon case and your reaction to it. However, I also want to ask you about when you talk about miscellaneous expenses, are you talking about athletes just in the major sports or are you talking about women, people that are on partial scholarship? I don't understand how that would work.
COMMISSIONER DELANY: Well, I'm not thinking it's simple. I didn't try to simplify it. I'm talking about a stipend, a miscellaneous expense that meets Title IX rules. We have a federal law, and there are no exemptions for football or basketball.
So first thing is we're talking about something that meets the test of Title IX. Now, don't ask me what that may be. But number one, we're going to do what is required by the law.
Number two, when I think about this, I think about this as a grant or an expense that goes to full scholarship athletes.
So I don't know how confused you are or how I've helped you, but, A, we're going to comply with Title IX. B, it's intended for those who are on full scholarship, men and women. Does that help?
I tried to do that inferentially. I gave you my belief about the college sports system, amateur, educationally‑based. I don't think that the O'Bannon case represents the best interests of intercollegiate athletics. I don't know how it will be resolved. It will be litigated.
And I think it will be litigated all the way to the Supreme Court, if the plaintiffs are successful. I don't think there's any compromise on that. And I don't know what the Supreme Court would do.
And then I think after that, if it's successful or not successful there, that will be determined there.
And then I think our Congress will have to figure out what they want to do with Title IX. And then we'll‑‑ whatever happens‑‑ it won't have anything to do with me. It will have something to do with courts and Congress and our boards of trustees and presidents.
So it's a little unchartered. We did not know what would happen when the NCAA was sued for control of television. We didn't know what would happen when the NCAA was sued for one reason or another.
And so you don't know exactly how it will play out. But it will be Congress and it will be the courts and it will be in part the NCAA. But all you can do is have a belief and assert it and let it fall where it falls.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
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