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Volume 26 No. 229
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Delany Looks Back On Time As Big Ten Commish, Explains Retirement

Sitting by the pool, moving to Nashville, getting to Mt. Everest base camp and maybe some teaching and consulting -- it’s all in the cards for Jim Delany after he retires on Jan. 1 following a 31-year run as Big Ten commissioner. Delany looked back on his career and addressed topics of the day during a chat on Day 1 of the '19 Learfield IMG College Intercollegiate Athletics Forum. Why retirement now for Delany? “It just feels right is probably the right answer,” he said. “I had contracts over the last five or six or seven years that had end dates and I would talk to our board and if there was something that was going on that was interesting, and I was feeling good, I would say, ‘Let's roll it another couple of years.’ And then as we approached meetings last year, I was talking to the leadership of the conference and I said, ‘you know, I think 2020 would be a good time for me to conclude.” When asked about mentors, Delany pointed to the late Vic Bubas (Sun Belt commissioner) and late Dave Gavitt (Big East commissioner).

HOOPS VS. FOOTBALL: Delany talked about the “negative impact” that an extended bowl season has had on the start of college hoops season. “We spent a lot of time over the last five years trying to bring basketball in November and December to a better place, because the shadow of football is so powerful. So between the Gavitt Games and the Big Ten-ACC Challenge and going to 20 conference games and putting them in earlier has really helped us in growing our basketball in those months.”

BUMP, SET, SPIKE: Media consumption was another topic Delany addressed. “There's going to be a challenge to keep people involved. The games that we offer across a wide spectrum have entertainment value, education, competition. We need to recognize that. I was looking at numbers yesterday after a BTN board meeting and our third highest rated sport is women's volleyball. So we scheduled to that. It's beautiful. An athletic event and a great team sport. … It's going to be marketed and it was done in a way that (schools) can go back and forth and not miss too much class. But you have to be aware of what people want to watch.”

BIGGER FOOTPRINT? Delany doesn’t believe the proliferation of cord-cutting and streaming will finish the need to chase eyeballs and geographic expansion. “There is an outer limit to what a conference can be, and I'm not saying it's 14. It may be 16. … You have to understand that the ACC has 100 million (TV homes) and the Pac-12 has 100 million and the SEC has 100 million. So at 95 million, we have parity with them. We don't have a distinct advantage.”