Jim Delany Fires a Warning Shot

Posted by Alex Moscoso (@AlexPMoscoso) on November 1st, 2013

Yesterday at Big Ten media day in Chicago, commissioner Jim Delany made some interesting comments. He advocated for schools from power conferences to exercise more autonomy in a restructured NCAA. In his view, this would eliminate the “existential threats” to college sports. Without question, these comments are a direct shot at smaller Division I schools, and they bring to the surface an issue that’s been bubbling up for years. The big programs from power conferences have grown increasingly frustrated with those schools dictating what they can and cannot do with respect to the services they can provide to scholarship athletes.  Delany, the most outspoken of all the power conference brokers, is trying to big time them back into their place.

What Does Jim Delany's Latest Move Mean For The Big 12? (US Presswire)

Jim Delany makes waves at Big Ten media day. (US Presswire)

The relationship between the bigger and smaller schools under the NCAA umbrella has been rocky, and the reason for it comes down to a key question. Should a program like Ohio State play under the same regulations and guidelines as a program like Ball State?  In 2011, Ohio State’s athletic department brought in $142 million in revenue while Ball State brought in $21 million. These programs operate on completely different levels, yet both programs must follow the same NCAA guidelines. This includes the types of perks each program can provide to its players. For example, Ohio State cannot just decide on its own to provide its players with catered meals every day; it needs the smaller schools in the organization to also agree to it. But since schools like Ball State cannot afford to provide their players with catered meals every day, they band together in voting blocs and reject such proposals with the clear reasoning that it would create an unfair recruiting advantage for the bigger schools. The catered meal example is a somewhat insignificant one, but these small items multiplied dozens of times over can start to add up.

The big programs have made it clear that they are continually frustrated by the voting power of the rest of Division I and have discussed one day leaving the NCAA to form their own organization. If the power conferences were ever to disband from the NCAA, it would forever change college basketball. In that scenario, they would run their own postseason events, which could possibly mean a basketball tournament with no Florida Gulf Coast, Gonzaga, VCU, or the rest, robbing March of so much of its Cinderella magic. Delany’s comments yesterday were a warning to the smaller schools: Stop holding us back or risk being shut out completely. If you enjoy college sports as they’re currently constructed, we should all hope that the power conferences figure out a way to share the wealth or risk a future where the college basketball postseason might look a lot different than what we’ve come to love.

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Forbes Ranks The Most Valuable Conferences: Big 12 Ranks Fifth

Posted by KoryCarpenter on January 17th, 2013

Call Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany a greedy businessman for caring more about the bottom line than tradition. Call him a savant for getting in front of the conference realignment fiasco by adding Nebraska before anyone had a chance to blink. However you feel, you can’t deny that the man knows how to run a conference. Forbes recently ranked the most valuable athletic conferences and the Big Ten came in at No. 1, ahead of the mighty SEC. While myself and probably many others were surprised to see the B1G on top, maybe we shouldn’t have been. The conference has a better balance of football and basketball powers than any other league. There are football blue bloods like Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State, and perennial basketball powers like Indiana, Michigan State and Ohio State. Here is how the top six power conferences fared:

  1. Big Ten: Total Income (bowl games + NCAA Tournament + television revenue): $310 Million
  2. Pac-12: $303 Million
  3. ACC: $293 Million
  4. SEC: $270 Million
  5. Big 12: $262 Million
  6. Big East: $94 Million
What Does Jim Delany's Latest Move Mean For The Big 12? (US Presswire)

What Does Jim Delany’s Latest Move Mean For The Big 12? (US Presswire)

It should be noted that the SEC’s television revenue is about to get a huge boost when it receives a new TV deal soon. It will likely jump the conferences above it on the list and vault the league to No. 1 shortly afterward. But this is a Big 12 microsite, so that’s a different conversation for a different day. The Big 12’s $200 million yearly television revenue lags behind the SEC, ACC, and Big Ten, but as the article points out, it isn’t as bleak of a forecast as it may seem. With only 10 members on board, each school receives $20 million per year and is still allowed to negotiate and keep its own tier three television rights, which usually includes certain non-conference football and basketball games as well as Olympic sports. The Longhorn Network, for example, gives Texas an extra $15 million per year. Fifth out of the six major conferences isn’t the best spot to be in, but it’s a far cry from a year ago when nobody knew if the conference would even be around today. Successfully adding TCU and West Virginia after the departures of Missouri and Texas A&M were key for the conference’s survival, and while time will tell if the two schools were the best available options, the phrase ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ rings in the background. With its television deal in place and schools making great money, the conference is not in as much in danger of being preyed upon as, for example, the ACC is right now. Maryland will bolt to the Big Ten soon while Florida State and Clemson have been rumored to be interested in the Big 12. It looks like the ACC will have 14 members next season if both schools remain in tow, though, as Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the league.

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Morning Five: 07.20.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 20th, 2012

  1. The Big East may have officially lost some stalwart programs from its lineup this week, but not without taking its commensurate pound of flesh. After agreeing to exit settlements totaling $15 million with Pittsburgh and Syracuse earlier in the week, the league announced on Thursday that it has dropped its lawsuit against here-today, gone-tomorrow program TCU. TCU of course had agreed to become a member of the Big East before reneging on that commitment to accept a better (and more commonsensical) invitation to the Big 12. The Big East had sued the school for its $5 million entry fee, but according to this report, the two parties have agreed to dismiss the case and settle for the disputed sum. If you’re counting at home, that’s a grand total of $20 million that flowed into the coffers of Big East banks this week — that might almost be enough money to buy some future relevance.
  2. When you think of Big East basketball forever more, one of the first images that should come to mind is John Thompson standing on the sideline at Georgetown, towel draped over his shoulder, menacing look on his face, preaching tough-as-nails defense and the togetherness of team. He’s been a radio personality in the Washington, DC, area ever since, and although he has never shied away from making strong statements, he’s rarely been what we would call controversial. As DC Sports Bog‘s Dan Steinberg notes, Thompson may have stepped over that fine line with his comments Wednesday about Penn State’s Joe Paterno. In a number of rambling statements, Thompson ultimately concludes that Paterno was “a damn good man” who made a “terrible mistake.” If you read for the nuance of Thompson’s quotes — discussing  the fallibility of humans and the ‘false gods’ we as a society build up — you see where he was going. But the key question to us is whether anyone who fails to act on knowledge of a known child molester can be a damn good man, and at the end of the day, that’s an equally damn tough argument to make.
  3. We wonder what Big John would think of the Big Ten‘s latest proposal that would give its president Jim Delany “the power to terminate Big Ten coaches for actions that ‘significantly harm the league’s reputation.'” Call it the Paterno Principle if you like, but one thing is for sure — the Big Ten basketball coaches who were interviewed off the record by Gary Parrish are not fans of this proposal. The words “arrogance” and “stupid” were used by his interviewees, and we’re guessing, rather vociferously. While we certainly understand the desire by the Big Ten to protect its own interests, we’re not sure that this idea is in any way legal or even completely rational. Leagues have the ability to punish its member institutions for any number of transgressions, but to interfere with the employer-employee relationship at large state universities (all but one)? It seems like a considerable overreach.
  4. It appears that the decision by Class of 2013 superstar recruit Jabari Parker to shut down his summer activities at the various AAU camps around the country was a good one. His father reported that tests this week show that his right foot is fractured, with no specific timetable for the smooth wing’s return other than sometime before the high school season begins in the fall. Frankly, as Mason Plumlee noted in his quotes in yesterday’s M5, it might not be a terrible thing for a player like Parker to spend some time away from the rankings-obsessed summer circuit in favor of helping his high school team get better next season.
  5. Mike DeCourcy finishes us off this week with his Starting Five column, where presumably Fake Mike DeCourcy asks Mike DeCourcy insightful questions about interesting topics facing the game today. He riffs on Duke without Austin Rivers, Kansas without elite talent, Jabari Parker without summer basketball, Jim Boeheim without the Big East, and Seth Greenberg without the bubble. It’s well worth a read on a beautiful Friday morning.
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Pac-12 and Big Ten Strategic Collaboration: What Does It Mean For Hoops Heads?

Posted by AMurawa on December 31st, 2011

In the excitement over the start of the Pac-12 basketball season, we’ve neglected thus far to mention the announcement Wednesday of a new “strategic collaboration” between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten. Included in this agreement are plans for more games between teams in the two conferences, beginning as early as next season for most sports, with a 12-game inter-conference schedule in football planned for 2017. For hoops, we should begin to see more games between the two conferences beginning next year, with possible special events, such as a college football kickoff event at a pro stadium, or basketball events played at NBA stadiums, to be announced at a later date. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany also look forward to being able to expand without expanding, to grow the reaches of their respective conferences into new regions and use the two cable networks – the already excelling Big Ten network and the Pac-12 network to come next year – to expand the branding of each conference.

larry scott

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott And His Big Ten Counterpart Jim Delany Have Come Up With A Creative Plan To Increase The Visibility Of Both Leagues (photo credit: Kirby Lee, U.S. Presswire)

Focusing just on the hoops side of things, knowing that the Big Ten already has the Big Ten/ACC Challenge that isn’t going anywhere, we likely shouldn’t expect to see a similar Big Ten/Pac-12 event, but there are plenty of ideas that would be appealing. Aside from the mere prospects of home-and-home series’ between teams like Washington and Wisconsin or Arizona and Michigan State, fans in out of the way places like Pullman or Lincoln can now hope to be able to wind up with elite programs making a visit to their campus – imagine UCLA at Nebraska or Ohio State at Washington State, the types of road trips that likely wouldn’t have happened prior to this agreement. Aside from that, perhaps we get some of these early season special events, things like a couple Pac-12 teams traveling to Indianapolis for a double-header with Indiana and Purdue or the opposite, perhaps, where the Big 12 sends a couple teams to Portland for a double header with Oregon and Oregon State. Delany even mentioned that such games could be used to help college basketball come up with a more definitive season-opening event, akin to Major League Baseball’s Opening Day.

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Morning Five: 06.21.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 21st, 2011

  1. Consider this a cautionary tale in terms of trusting online entities claiming to have primary source information, especially when it comes to recruiting.  Meet Jonathan Paige, the recruiting guru who wasn’t.   In just two short months, Paige, a pseudonym for someone claiming to follow “AAU basketball all summer every summer,” gathered over 500 Twitter followers, was cited on numerous reputable blogs and team message boards, and generally became an up-and-coming “name” within the sometimes-shady scouting and recruiting information industry.  In his words, all he did to develop his growing profile was to tweet and re-tweet confirmed information from other sources, mine the major message boards for rumors, tailor his posts to specific fanbases, and make up the rest.  There’s no telling how much further he could have taken this should he have chosen to do so, but we should all learn from “Troll’s” deception — not in the sense of thumbing our nose at the guy, but rather to remind ourselves that anything read or viewed online needs to served correspondingly with a healthy dose of skepticism.
  2. It’s been a tough several days for San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher.  Last week, several establishments including RTC noted that Fisher’s 400th career victory, achieved on January 12 against UNLV last season, was not in fact a milestone win given the NCAA’s new “Calipari Doctrine.”  Over the weekend, former SDSU transfer commitment Kevin Young announced that he would instead attend Kansas for his final two seasons of eligibility.  As a result, Fisher vented to the San Diego Union-Tribune that he was angered that Kansas (and by proxy, Bill Self) had recruited someone  he says had “made an eight-month commitment” to the Aztec program but had been swayed in recent months to view Kansas as an alternative.  Self, to his credit, claims that Young had already “de-committed” from SDSU before KU got involved, but the fact remains that Fisher will enter 2011-12 not only a few years away from that elusive NCAA-verified 400th win, but also without a roster (including Young) prepared to re-build from the loss of his top four players.
  3. When we read something like this article outlining the mammoth salaries that the six BCS conference commissioners make as CEOs of their leagues, we really start wondering just how much longer the NCAA as we know it will continue to exist.  From Jim Delany’s $1.6M Big Ten salary (2009) to John Marinotti’s $366K prorated pay (half of 2009), it’s easy to forget that these organizations supposedly looking out for the best interests of their student-athletes are 501(c) non-profits.  As anyone who knows anything about the world of non-profits, when they are run like profit-making entities, the clients that they purport to serve are usually the first ones left by the wayside.
  4. The long Fayetteville nightmare is over, as Arkansas guard Rotnei Clarkewas finally given his release by the school to transfer wherever he likes.  As reported by several outlets over the weekend, Clarke had asked for his release several times but new head coach Mike Anderson appeared to be stonewalling his best returning player in an attempt to keep him around for his senior year.  The 6’0 all-SEC second team guard is originally from Verdigris, Oklahoma, a town just outside of Tulsa, which makes us wonder if Travis Ford, Lon Kruger and Doug Wojcik already have the prolific scorer on their speed dials.
  5. We missed this over the weekend, but June 19 wasn’t just Father’s Day it was also the 25th anniversary of former Maryland forward Len Bias‘ tragic death in 1986.  Bias is on a short list of players whose mythology over the intervening years has probably outgrown his proven abilities, but make no mistake, the guy was a stud in college and could have become an NBA superstar in the right situation.  His shocking death, a mere two days after he had been drafted by the then-NBA Champion Boston Celtics, carried repercussions beyond sports that are still felt to this very day in America’s criminal justice system.  As Salon’s Jonathan Easley outlines in an interview with the House counsel that helped write the shameful 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, a law that Congress passed that summer that would ultimately result in an explosion of America’s prison population for drug-related crimes and utilizing an arbitrary and racially-tinged “logic” behind making the distribution of crack cocaine more “criminal” than that of powder cocaine.  The death of Len Bias, a seemingly innocent and well-spoken young man by all accounts, helped to drive this legislation in the Nancy Reagan-led Just Say No era.  It’s a very interesting read, and one you probably won’t hear when watching sentimental testimonials to Bias such as this one from ESPN’s John Saunders last week.

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Boise State-us Quo, Baylor, And The Ultimatum: The Expansion Latest

Posted by jstevrtc on June 7th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences and an occasional contributor.

On the heels of recent rumors regarding the Pac-10’s plans to invite six Big 12 schools to leave their current home for a new superconference, the Big 12 is looking for assurances that all of its current members are committed to the conference. At the Big 12 meetings in Kansas City this week, nine of the 12 schools gave their commitment to the Big 12, but the three schools with the likeliest chances of invites elsewhere – Colorado, Missouri and Nebraska – declined to do so. As a result, the remaining Big 12 schools have issued an ultimatum to all three schools, mostly focused on Nebraska, to either commit fully to continued membership in the Big 12 or else be ready to watch it dissolve. While there is no reason that any commitment these schools give to the Big 12 would be in any way binding and there is no “or else” necessarily specified, reading between the lines it looks like if the six schools tied to the Pac-10 rumors do not get assurances from Nebraska that they will remain Big 12 members, those six schools will pursue their opportunities with the new Pac-10 superconference.  So, while the Big 12 feels that can withstand the loss of Missouri and that Colorado isn’t going anywhere without other members of the conference, if Nebraska is not ready to commit to the rest of the conference and foreswear possible Big Ten membership, the invited six are ready to join up with the Pac-10.

In a related story, there is also news that the Texas state legislature is at it again, mixing it up in inter-collegiate sports in an attempt to save Baylor from being left behind. Orangebloods.com is reporting that there is a group of Texas lawmakers trying to make a push to force the Big 12 to take Baylor instead of Colorado, by doing something like not allowing Texas to leave the Big 12 for the Pac-10 if Baylor is not invited as well.  Also, it seems that rather than deal with a big legal and political hassle, the Pac-10 would be willing to substitute Baylor for Colorado, despite the desire for the lucrative Denver television market. This, of course, has happened before with Baylor. When the Southwest Conference broke up in the mid 90s, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor were offered invitations to join the Big 8 schools, creating the Big 12. It was then-Texas-governor Ann Richards, a Baylor alum, who insisted that Baylor be included in any plan with Texas state universities joining the Big 8 schools. This time around, it may be new Baylor president Ken Starr (yes, THAT Ken Starr) who is leading the charge to keep Baylor tied to the hips of the other Big 12 Texas schools.

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Watch Out For “Tech Problems”

Posted by jstevrtc on June 4th, 2010

Conference realignment is not without its backchannel communications and intrigues.

Earlier today the AP sent out a report about an e-mail from April 20 that was sent from Ohio State president Gordon Gee to Big Ten commish Jim Delany.  In that message, Gee writes about how he spoke with Texas president Bill Powers, and — we love this — claims that Powers would “welcome a call to say they have a ‘Tech problem.'”

Powers: fine with any future Tech problems.

The AP report admits not knowing what that could possibly mean — perhaps a reference to Big 12 rival Texas Tech?  All that RTC can confirm about the e-mail is that it was indeed written by Gee and not by one of the specimens from his unarguably excellent collection of bow ties.

Another e-mail that found its way into the hands of the Columbus Dispatch had Gee telling Delany that the Big Ten “controls its own destiny, but must move swiftly.”

The birds of prey are circling.  Our sport is going to look a lot different…soon.  Meanwhile, watch out for those “Tech problems,” and we’ll be waiting to see if Missouri tells someone they’re OK with getting a call saying that they have a “Jayhawk situation.”

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Jim Delany: Keep Moving, Nothing to See Here…

Posted by rtmsf on April 21st, 2010

If you were anticipating some clarity coming out of the BCS meetings in Arizona this week involving league commissioners from the various heavy-hitters across the college sports landscape, you’ll have to wait a little longer.  It was widely speculated that Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany may have used the forum to announce some form of targeted expansion for his conference that could have blown a torpedo-sized hole in the existing structure of major college athletics.  Didn’t happen.  In fact, according to the commish of the richest conference in D1 sports, a whole bunch of nothing is going on.

There are no announcements here and there are no notifications here.”  Delany said the expansion process remains in an early phase. He said it’s too early to tell whether the 11-team conference would add one or as many as five teams. He said his thinking wasn’t being heavily influenced by a desire to hold a conference championship game in December. He also said he doesn’t know how quickly an expanded league could be put together.  He would not deny, however, that programs are being evaluated for their potential fit in the Big Ten.  “I didn’t say we weren’t at that phase, I said we are not at the phase of any need to provide notice to an institution, that we were in formal discussions with an institution.”

We counted at least five uses of the negative in his two quotes there.  Delaney uses two more in another interview with USA Today, where he said the Big Ten is: 

“not anywhere near” [approaching or adding new schools.]  “We have not accelerated anything” [with respect to the 12-18 month timetable.]

Delany’s manner of speaking reminds us of the old unknown unknown bit from Donald Rumsfeld in the mid-2000s.  It wouldn’t have surprised us to hear Delany segue into a similar lecture on what the knowns and unknowns are with respect to conference expansion, all the while dropping double-negatives and enough qualifiers and derivatives to make Goldman Sachs blush these days. 

The bottom line is this, though.  Missouri, Pitt, Rutgers, UConn and Notre Dame fans can all rest easy now.  Until they can’t anymore, which will happen at a time and place known only to Delany and his cronies  and will be pushed upon the American people without provocation or consideration.  All we ask is that when it comes time to actually add one, three, or five new teams to the Big Ten Conference, Delany doesn’t continue to play this game by telling us that, for example, “Missouri may not be under consideration in the current phase, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t ever under consideration nor does it preclude them from future consideration.  It wouldn’t make good business sense to not consider them at some point.”  Um, thanks.

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