COMMISSIONER DELANY: Good afternoon. It's nice to be back up here again. Gives me a reason to allow my wife to take me out and get a new suit, new pair of shoes, try to look good.
Beginning of football season, always a kickoff luncheon, so it's great to be around the coaches, and the media that cover us so extensively.
I really think that the past year and the next two years are probably some of the most interesting, exciting and challenging years that I can recall. This is going into my 33rd year as a conference commissioner. Before that I spent five years in enforcement. A few years before that I spent time as a student-athlete. So either as a student-athlete or as a young lawyer or as a conference commissioner, I think we're in interesting and challenging times. I hope that I can put into perspective some of the challenges, some of the possible ways through those challenges, hopefully be honest about the good and also about the things that are not so good that we need to address.
But before getting into that, I think it's important to point out that we've got five individuals who will be honored in December in New York City, who will be inducted into the college football Hall of Fame: Lloyd Carr from Michigan, Gene Washington from Michigan State, Sandy Stephens, Will Shields from Nebraska - Sandy was a great quarterback at Minnesota, led them to the Rose Bowl - and Eddie George from Ohio State.
That brings, counting the University of Chicago and Penn State and Nebraska, to 167 student-athletes in the Hall of Fame as well as 53 coaches. So we're really proud of those contributions.
It seems to me the things we have done well require partnerships and trust. Certainly our telecast partners at ESPN, ABC, and the Big Ten Network, as well as big FOX over the air, are going to bring to our fans all games in HD on national television this year. That's a real expansion. I think Mark mentioned we'll have seven games on BTN in prime and seven on ESPN. 22 years ago, 1989, I think we had a total of 15 or 16 games on all forms of television.
So there's no doubt about it that the kinds of change in the media, media platforms and technology, have aided in the growth of college sports. To be honest with you, we wouldn't be where we are today without those kinds of partnerships.
Likewise, the changes that have occurred in the conference, whether it's the addition of Penn State or Nebraska, require trust and change, taking advantage of opportunities. Clearly those two institutions have brought the Big Ten into the modern air. We'll have a championship game, divisional play, something we never had before. I will tell you, when you look up and down that schedule, if I were a coach, I'm glad I'm an administrator, but if I were a coach I'd be getting my guys ready to play. It's a clich?, but I think the competition will be at its highest level ever.
As far as the regular season, we have the best regular season. I don't think anybody questions that. I don't think anybody questions that college football has separated itself. Certainly the NFL is the most popular sport in America by a longshot, and they've earned it and deserve it. But college football, for a variety of reasons over the last decade, has separated itself from college basketball, pro baseball, pro basketball, and hockey. It really is the second most important viewed sport in the country. That brings great opportunity, but also great challenges. I think our challenge in the future is to address the things that are addressable.
As far as the post-season is concerned, the BCS is controversial. It's successful and it's also controversial. That's not going to change anytime soon. We have three years to go in that contract.
The Rose Bowl is associated with the BCS. The Rose Bowl is the most important external relationship we have. We want to maintain it indefinitely into the future. We'll work with our partners in our conferences around the country to continue to study it and to continue to try to do what's right for the post-season.
I know in playing SEC teams and Big 12 teams and PAC-10 teams, the end of the season is a great celebration of college football for us. But it's not any greater or more important than the regular season that we all enjoy from September through November.
I would repeat that the challenges we have over the next couple years are significant. They really relate to two areas. One is our structure and our systems. We've had structure and systems from the beginning of the establishment of college sports. But I'm talking about eligibility standards, standards governing recruitment, definitions of scholarships, and the actual regulatory system that's in place.
It could probably fairly be described as a system established in the '50s and stuck in the '70s. I think that there's going to be a need to really look at it, look at it seriously, upgrade it for the 21st century so that we're going to be able to continue to put forward teams sponsored by institutions of higher education without being embarrassed by the actions that occur off the field, not on the field. Because I think the actions on the field are entertaining, exciting and worthwhile.
But I think the system, as well as the people that are engaged on behalf of the institutions -- I spent about an hour this morning with 12 football coaches. They had an opportunity to hear my comments, and I had an opportunity to look them in the eye. There are two things that are in play here: systems, which need to be refined and upgraded for the 21st century, and I want to hear what they have to say about how they can be improved, how systems and rules can be simplified, how we can work on behalf of the student-athlete, how we can produce a high school student that's better prepared for the college experience; and also how people can be held more accountable in a clearer and more rational and timely way.
I read with a lot of interest Mike Slive's comments. I think he laid out a number of areas that I have no disagreement with at all. I read John Swofford's comments. John called it a tipping point. Mike said we've lost trust. I agree with that.
Mark Emmert has done a great job in the last four or five months meeting with us, meeting with others in the collegiate system. And starting in the Final Four all the through the commissioners' meetings in D.C., he's asked us to be proactive. He's asked us to communicate with our coaches and our presidents. We recognize that systems aren't the answers by themselves, and people aren't the answer by themselves.
But I think that going forward, I think it's going to be a great challenge for presidential leadership not only at the NCAA, but within the conferences, and more particularly with regard to the people side of it, our coaches need to commit. I believe our coaches are committed. I've always had confidence in our coaches.
Coach Tressel made a mistake and he paid dearly for that mistake. University of Michigan had a problem with out-of-season practice, that was an embarrassment. This year we have Ohio State getting ready to go in front of the infractions committee on August 12th. That's embarrassing.
Neither one of those institutions have a history of being in that situation. It not only has reflected poorly on them, it's reflected poorly on us. I explained to each of those coaches that going forward we do not want two more such cases and that they are the CEOs of their program. They hire the assistant coaches. People do make mistakes, but it's how those mistakes are managed and how people address those that's more important than the underlying mistake.
We have hundreds of self-reported violations in the Big Ten annually. That information goes from the coaches in some cases to the school or from the compliance director to the school to the conference to the NCAA. That's how we manage that.
The NCAA has a significant role to play also. They have an infractions process, they have a regulatory system basically where they are enforcing our rules, they aren't their rules, they're rules that come out of the NCAA membership. To the extent they're inexplicable or irrational, it's not the NCAA's problem, it's our problem, and we need to fix it if we need to fix it.
I think that the 14 struggles that have come under scrutiny in the last year raise legitimate questions in people's minds about who is sponsoring these programs and what do these programs stand for. I can't remember a period of time where we've had more questions about various programs, where it be on the agent side, the recruitment side, or the academic side. We've had two of them in this conference, and that's two too many, as far as I'm concerned.
So what I wanted to do with our coaches this morning is make clear to them what our expectations are. I am very confident in each of those people, as I have been in the past, sometimes you get disappointed. But the reality is not about getting disappointed, it's about getting better and getting stronger.
So I'm very pleased that Mark Emmert is in the position he is in. I think he's a great communicator. I think as a former president at LSU, UConn and Washington, he understands major college athletics, both their strengths and weaknesses.
It's not the NCAA alone that needs to change, it's the conferences and the institutions, to really look at their processes so we can trust each other, that when information comes up and needs to be addressed, it's addressed in the proper way. Because it's not the fact that we're highly regulated, it's not the fact that people are going to make mistakes that gets us in trouble, it's how we deal with those problems when they arise. I'm excited to address these things going forward.
I can tell you there's been a lot of discussion about what can change. As I mentioned earlier, I thought Commissioner Slive's four areas were well-stated. I wouldn't disagree with any of them. We'll have to get into the details like you do on a lot of things, but I know our presidents, we've discussed these things at our recent meetings, as have our ADs, coaches and faculty. They're prepared to engage in changes.
We compete with the Big 12, the PAC-10 and SEC on the field. This is not a time for competition. This is a time for collaboration, for coming together, for giving Mark Emmert the ideas and concepts that he needs to produce to university presidents around the country and to establish a renewed way of ensuring that the intercollegiate athletic model can be sustained in the 21st century. It's a real challenge and one that I believe we're up to, but it will be -- I'll be up here next year and the year after and we'll determine how much constructive change is possible.
I would note that college football continues to draw incredible, incredible support from the media. With the PAC-10's announcement of its new networks, that's another indication of the value and the interest that the public has in college football.
Larry is a good friend. I want to compliment he and his team for being so creative to structure not only a regular-season package, but a post-season package. While we compete, we also collaborate. We're also a partner and we're proud they're able to establish their niche in the college-owned network marketplace.
Talking about networks. There's been a lot of controversy about networks, what role they should play outside the telecasting of collegiate events. Mark just gave you his take on it.
I will tell you that when we created this network, we wanted to do it in a way that was profitable, in a way that also expressed the best values of the conference. As a result, there's a commitment to equity in terms of telecasting events. There's a no alcohol policy. There's a commitment to institutional programming. It was not created to telecast high school sports. It has been discussed.
At a time when we're trying to clean up, whether it be summer basketball, whether it's seven-on-seven football, try to deconstruct the recruitment model, to make it a little bit saner and more enforceable, a little bit more accountable, in my view it's not time for the Big Ten Network to engage in the coverage of high school sports. Maybe it's a recruiting advantage, maybe it's not. But that's not why that network was created.
So, therefore, while we go through this reform process, while we try to sort out the best ways of doing business, it's going to be the Big Ten Conference's position, inside the joint venture with FOX, that we refrain from telecasting high school games for at least the next couple years until we sort out these other more important issues.
If the NCAA in its wisdom, makes these games televisable, we'll probably have to look at it. But it's our position that it does nothing but confusion an already confused environment, and we're going to stick to the collegiate telecasting of games.
With that, let me stop here and just say it's great to be here and I look forward to trying to answer some of your questions.
Q. The meeting you had this morning with the coaches, you assume you don't have this every year, this was a special circumstance?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: We meet with the coaches a number of other times during the course of the year. We had a full-day meeting with them in May. I wanted to call them together today and speak to them candidly and from the heart, explain to them that in many ways the game is as healthy as it's ever been. But also, in my view, we have as a conference been hurt by the two institutions that have been involved in NCAA allegations and findings, and that I wanted to let them know that I expected them to lead their programs in a way that wouldn't put us in that circumstance again.
I felt very comfortable with a very candid reaction. I think everybody understands where we're going and why we're going in that direction.
Q. In your opening you said there's some systems that needed refining and upgrading. Are you open to the idea of paying players?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: I'm not open. Depends how you define that. I'm open to providing scholarships up to the cost of education. That's a defined cost with defined elements. I'm not interested in looking at any scholarship that would provide for more than the cost of education, which is basically room, board, fees, course-required materials, miscellaneous and local expenses. In most cases it's a couple thousand dollars to four or five thousand dollars above the present cost of scholarship definition. A lot of people talk about pay for play. If you define that as anything more than the cost of education, we would not be interested in discussing that. To the extent it's contained to the cost of education, we'd be interested in having that discussion.
Q. Did you agree with everything that Mike Slive said last week in Birmingham?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: I didn't see the transcript. But as it was reported, there was nothing in it that I really disagreed with. I think he talked about the student-athlete welfare. There are a couple things I would add to it, but there's nothing he put forward that I would disagree with. The one thing that I would like for us to think seriously about is we have athletic excellence as a precondition to being invited to a bowl game or be invited to the NCAA tournament or track and field. I really agree with Arne Duncan and I also agree with the Knight Commission, that there ought to be some minimal academic not -- team performances in order to have that eligibility, in order to have that team be eligible for post-season play.
Q. As Mike said those all seem like great ideas. But as you just stated, how do you get a consensus on that to change the model if it is on the membership to do it?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: Well, it's going to be a challenge. I think all we can do is come together. I think and Larry and John Swofford, Mike and I, John Marinatto, these ideas have been discussed in general ways, not in any specific way.
I think some of us will have an easier time getting internal consensus. Assuming we got internal consensus, then we've got to come together as a group. Then I think Mark Emmert has to help us inside the NCAA. I think it's a challenge for presidential leadership. How we're reported on, both good and bad, is different. Our great games and our great performances and great coaching is reported in bold print and HD and 3D. That comes with the territory. When we don't do well, it's reported on in the same bold way.
So both on the upside and on the downside, we're a little bit different. That means the system has got to be adjusted to accommodate some of our challenges. Toledo and San Diego both had very significant and difficult challenges. The thing that I fear the most is, is the compromising of the games. They were just covered in probably a less comprehensive way because they're not household names, they are not brand names. The coverage of them is going to reflect that. So with a lot of high visibility comes even higher responsibility. I think the system that we have was created in the day when that wasn't maybe quite the case.
I feel no competition at all. I'm a pretty competitive guy on a lot of issues. But with regard to reform and change, I'm looking for allies, I'm looking for people to walk the walk with. I'm hoping that Mark can be influential with the president to help us.
We want to be inside the NCAA. We want to share the revenue. We want to have tournaments and championships that include everybody. But we also need a way of governance that allows you to evolve with the challenges of the time.
Q. The conference commissioners seem to be taking a pretty active leadership role with this agenda, if you will. Wondering if that's a concerted effort or if this is kind of an evolution of the role of the conference commissioners?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: It's happened from time to time. I can remember, some of you who have been around a little bit longer, can remember the reform movements in the late '80s and early '90s, where Commissioner Kramer, myself, Dave Gavitt, Gene Corrigan were involved with the President's Commission as well as after that in the early '90s. The conferences from time to time have been able to do this and coordinate and bring issues forward.
We don't do it every year. For the most part the tweaks in the system come from institutions or from NCAA committees. But I think in every case, if you would look at the bylaws of the conferences, you would see statements about studying problems and challenges and proposing solutions. In the Big Ten, our board of directors is the final authority. At the NCAA, it's their board of directors. So the only thing we can do is bring ideas forward, try to work through solutions that are agreeable to ourselves, and then ask Mark to work inside the NCAA system to produce changes and results.
We haven't evolved much. I think that it's not all about systems, it's also about people and local culture. So I don't put it all on the systems. Because if you have a wrong-doer who is intent on doing wrong, makes a mistake, doesn't matter what kind of system you have. At the same time it doesn't make any sense in criminalizing something that's not core to your enterprise.
I think the other thing that I would tell you is that if you can't enforce it, and there are a lot of regulations that are unenforceable, they're simply on the books, it's probably not right to have them there. Call them guidelines or best practices, but don't call them regulations.
Q. It's obviously a major hypothetical. If Ohio State were to get a post-season bowl ban, how would that affect whether they would be eligible for the conference championship game?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: We don't have a conference policy on it. My sense would be the presidents would meet quickly and act on the athletic director's recommendation. My sense would be that anybody who is ineligible to play in post-season, whether it's in basketball or football going forward, would not be eligible.
Although I will tell you that I think Minnesota was allowed to play in our basketball tournament. It's a little bit different because there's so many bids that go to this conference in basketball. But in football where you have one automatic access point for a BCS game, my sense is you would have to be eligible for that game in order to play in our championship game. Because simply that's the reason we have the game, is to identify a champion and a representative into the post-season play.
That would be after discussion with ADs and a recommendation to presidents.
Q. When schools get into NCAA trouble for rules violation, we always hear every case is different. In the context of what's been going on with 12 different schools in trouble, as you said with high visibility comes higher responsibility, do you see how the NCAA committee on infractions handles the highest case as a litmus test on how open the NCAA is on making the types of changes that you think might be necessary with the system that we're in?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: You know, I've had the good fortune or bad fortunate to be in front of the infractions committees over 40 times in the last 37 years - 10 as an investigator, about 10 times when I was in the Ohio Valley Conference, and then about 20 times in the last 22 years.
Almost every time one of our school goes, I'm along for the ride. I've also studied the cases and looked at the cases. The reality is in any adjudicatory process, facts are stubborn things. They're more malleable for some people, but in the court, an administrative hearing, facts matter, findings matter.
I would tell you that generally speaking the outcomes that the committee gives are rational on that day. They hear the evidence. They look at prior cases. They typically don't go back 10 or 20 years. But there's a series of cases. It's sort of like a basketball official. You know what you expect from a basketball official is maybe not to be as consistent in November as they are in December, but you would hope they would be consistent from one call to another within a five-minute period.
Everybody argues in sports about the inconsistency of the strike zone, of the charged block. I think you can argue from time to time about the consistency of the infractions committee. But I would tell you that my experience has been that the decisions are rational. Sometimes I think they're too tough. Sometimes I think they're too easy. Typically I always think that my school should be dealt with -- I don't say they're dealt with too leniently, I usually think they're dealt with too toughly, but I'm not an objective observer.
I don't fear that the infractions committee is going to be any more difficult this summer than they were last summer or the summer before. Jo Potuto, the former chair of that committee, recommended to the board of directors, I think it was two or three summers ago, that they reintroduce television penalties, start using post-season bans. They haven't really taken up that charge. I wouldn't be opposed if they do take up that charge.
But I think that it's on the board of directors to address that. I don't think we're well-served without the ability of the committee to deal with television bans or post-season play. So I don't expect that there will be a change in policy until the board directs that change. So I expect that we'll be dealt with fairly as we have in the past.
Q. What do you see as the Big Ten's role in approaching these situations? Is it to be advocating on behalf of member institutions or is it to be in some sense punitive in conjunction with the NCAA or maybe above and beyond when thought to be necessary?
COMMISSIONER DELANY: Yeah, that's a good question. We're not in the enforcement business, per se. No conference is. We do manage the educational area. We do manage expectations and how they deal with information. We have for 20 years. In fact, the first year I was in, we insisted that people begin to report secondary violations. That first year I think we have 37 or 38. Today we have over 250 a year, somewhere between 230 and 250 a year.
So, number one, we believe in reveal and report. We're pretty clear with our institutions that that is the foundation of how we want them to operate. They're the ones with the really extensive compliance and education department. Some have six, eight, ten people working all year round on these issues.
When a school gets themselves in trouble with the NCAA, we're able to offer the university advice. Sometimes they don't ask for any advice. If they do, we provide them with advice. We're available to escort them to the hearing. But in all cases, but if they didn't want us to go, they have their own internal or external legal counsel, they're the ones sitting with the faculty representative. I'm typically at the far end of the meeting.
The infractions committee usually asks me if I have any opening comments. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. A day or two later towards the end of the hearing, they'll ask me if I have any closing comments. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.
Really the presentation of the case to the NCAA, I would describe, is 95% institution dominated. If a school asks me - sometimes they do and sometimes they don't - What do you think about how we're approaching it? I'll give them a comment.
After the process is over, we have a process that reviews the infraction committee's penalties. I think in 22 years I can't remember an incident where we, you know, added to those penalties. We typically accept those penalties. If we want to do something further on an educational side or counseling side, we could. But in terms of penalties, we typically have never added to the penalties that the NCAA poses.
So I view us as having fairly high expectations about report and then reveal. I believe we've built a pretty good culture of that. I think that Jim's activity was in contravention of that.
I talked to our coaches this morning at length. I said, I want to make sure that everybody in this room understands, when you come across certain kinds of information, you have a responsibility to report it up the chain of command. You do not have any discretion about that.
They understand that. I think they have all understood it. I believe they understood it even more going forward. So it was a good conversation. That's our expectation. I'm confident that will be the way they all proceed going forward.
B1G Commish Jim Delany Presser (U-M = OSU?)
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