Big Ten's Delany Foresees NCAA Restructuring, Evolution Toward Super Division
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany at the league's media days yesterday "offered little of the saber-rattling that marked the recent speeches of other conference commissioners in regards to the NCAA," but "even with a more diplomatic tone, the Big Ten commissioner echoed the sentiment of fellow power brokers that the group’s structure will be different, perhaps within a year," according to Todd Jones of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Delany said, "There’s a lot of political momentum for change at the NCAA." Issues due to economic disparity among membership have "created such recent talk, leading to increased speculation that the five richest conferences" could possibly "break away from the NCAA." Delany along with SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and ACC Commissioner John Swofford "still support the NCAA and its role in overseeing college athletics, but they want an idea considered to create a new subdivision for schools such as Ohio State that have larger athletic budgets" than other D-I members. Delany: "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." Bowlsby was "more bombastic than Delany when he spoke on Monday of the need for change within the NCAA, suggesting that it’s time to consider establishing new federations to separate sports and how they are supervised." Univ. of Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez said, "You can’t have the same rules for field hockey as you do for football and basketball. There has to be a consideration to rethinking and retooling what we have" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 7/25).
EVOLUTION, NOT REVOLUTION: USA TODAY's Dan Wolken writes Delany, unlike Bowlsby and Slive, "downplayed the threat of leaving the NCAA and characterized the momentum toward a 'super division' of high-revenue schools as a more natural evolution college athletics would embrace." Delany: "From my conversations with all of my colleagues, they think change is at hand. I don't think it's going to be very adversarial, and I don't really think that the need to threaten or walk (away from the NCAA) is going to be there." Delany added that lower-revenue schools "weren't always causing" the divide between themselves and higher-revenue schools, but said that "when high-revenue schools were aligned on an issue, they should have a way to get that passed" (USA TODAY, 7/25).
MAN WITH A PLAN: In Detroit, Joe Rexrode notes Delany "detailed four things he said are necessary to keep college athletics connected to academics." First is the "creation of an 'educational trust' at the school, conference or national level to allow college athletes to return years later and finish their degrees." Delany called it "a lifetime opportunity to graduate." Second is taking "another look at the 20-hour practice rule with an emphasis on making sure college athletes actually have the time for their academic pursuits." Third is a "'year of residence' for at-risk students so they are not rushed into competition without being ready for the demands of school." Delany "made it clear" that would be "an option for some who need it and don’t have it now." Fourth is the "idea of a cost-of-living stipend." Delany said that it would "probably be in the range of $3,000 a year per athlete, given to men and women on full scholarship." He said the "miscellaneous expense ... needs to be implemented" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/25). ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg wrote Delany's plan will "resonate with some and come off as idealistic to others." There is "no denying that Delany presented his plan with the ongoing Ed O'Bannon-NCAA antitrust lawsuit in mind." He has been "steadfast in his belief that college athletes shouldn't be paid and that it could destroy the structure of college sports" (ESPN.com, 7/24). CBSSPORTS.com's Dennis Dodd noted Delany "admitted we would see games in the future with paid players going against non-paid players." Those players, "based on Delany's calculations, could be paid between $3,000 to $5,000 per school year." Delany: "I don't know if you're in five figures, but ... three, four, five thousand is probably the range of the outside limit" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/24).
AMERICAN POWER: AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said that the conference will "likely push for inclusion if the power conferences break into a subdivision or so-called 'Division 4.'" Aresco added that he will "expound on this topic at the conference's media days in Newport, R.I., early next week, and he wants to know the parameters of a subdivision before discussing further with his presidents." CBSSPORTS.com's Jeremy Fowler reported "on the surface, Aresco believes the American would fit certain criteria such as market size and long-term viability on the field" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/24).