Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany Remains Focused, Impactful In Growing Role
Though Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany has set '20 as a "potential target retirement date," he "shows no signs of slowing down," according to Nicole Auerbach of USA TODAY. Delany remains "focused on creating ways to reduce student-athlete time demands and increase player health and safety in an era of greater awareness of concussions and permanent brain damage." The public nature of a commissioner's job is "something that’s grown immensely in recent years, starting with the advent of individual conference networks." The Big Ten Network was "the first" and is Delany's "brainchild." The job also evolved to include the "chess-playing that was conference realignment." Social media has also "amplified the voices of commissioners and athletic directors." Delany: "The role of a commissioner has changed a lot, but it's been evolutionary until, I would say the last five-to-seven years. We’re managing more. It's more public; it's more national. There's more interest in football. The issues were all within our control for a long time. With the advent of more litigation, it narrows the issues that you have direct control over and moves your attention and resources to defending what you think is defensible, and settling what you think you should settle" (USA TODAY, 12/6).
WATERSHED MOMENT: USA TODAY's Auerbach notes the BTN is "approaching its 10th anniversary," and now that most Power Five conferences have followed suit, it "seems hard to believe that Delany wasn’t sure his brainchild would work." He had to "convince Big Ten member schools’ presidents and athletic directors to try it, knowing it might fail, knowing cable companies didn’t necessarily buy in and knowing full well it could and would offend ESPN." The moment Delany "knew it would not just be viable but succeed was an unexpected one: Appalachian State’s historic upset of then-No. 5 Michigan, on Sept. 1, 2007." It was the "first game to be broadcast" on BTN. When Michigan lost, it "actually created some college football history and made the network relevant." Delany: "It was BTN on everyone’s highlight show. It legitimized it" (USA TODAY, 12/6).