Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Delany talks committee, Ed O'Bannon case
By Adam Rittenberg
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany met with myself and several others reporters Wednesday after the league's annual athletics communications directors meetings at league headquarters. He touched on several key topics, including the Ed O'Bannon antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA, the future College Football Playoff selection committee and the Big Ten's future bowl lineup.
Here's a recap:
- Delany said the NCAA won't settle in the O'Bannon case and fully expects the case to take years to resolve as it goes through the court system. "There should be no compromise on this," he said, adding that by the time the case is resolved, most of the current conference commissioners and university presidents won't be in their positions.
- He reiterated the Big Ten's support to increase the value of an athletic scholarship to the full cost of education, which he originally proposed in May 2011. The Big Ten remains supportive of Federal Pell Grants and other grants to help student-athletes in need. Delany noted that other leagues haven't been as keen to increase the value of athletic scholarships. "The Big Ten is very active in trying to get more to the needy athlete, make sure they get the Pell Grant, make sure they get the things that they can't get," Delany said. "But once you cross that line where you’re negotiating with players in a few sports, it changes."
- Delany clarified his well-publicized remarks to SI.com that the Big Ten presidents would rather go to a Division III model than a pay-for-play one, if the O'Bannon plaintiffs win their case.. "We don’t want to go to Division III, we want to [stay with] Division I," he said. "We want plenty of scholarships for women, plenty of scholarships for men." He later added, "You think they’re going to force the Ivy League to pay their players?"
- Asked about the money a player like Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel brings to an institution through jersey sales, Delany replied, "Texas A&M is a core institution. It goes back 130 years. If Johnny Manziel was playing Arena Football, what’s the uniform worth? … You could have gone down that road with Wilt Chamberlain."
- Delany said the top priority in forming the College Football Playoff selection committee is to find people with "football savvy" and a true national perspective, whether they're current athletic directors, former coaches, former media members or others. Although every FBS conference will be represented on the committee, "You can’t be a congressman," Delany said. "You can't come from this part of the country to take care of that. We don't need that. We have to be aware of that, but the way you’re aware of that is finding great football people. You earn through the due diligence and the assessment and the transparency to explain why you did what you did."
- I asked Delany about Wisconsin athletic director and former coach Barry Alvarez, who told ESPN.com earlier this spring that if asked, he'll serve on the selection committee. "Alvarez qualifies not as an AD," Delany said. "His football background is strong. If you get a core group of football who are football smart, football savvy, great integrity, and there’s some national distribution. If you don't get that, you're not there. I don't care what else you do."
- In Delany's view, it will be harder to put together the football committee than the men's basketball tournament selection committee. One reason is the longer period for debate after the selections are made. "You’re going to have close to a month, so that's going to make it hard," Delany said. "It's a bigger decision and a longer time for scrutiny. That's why they have to do such a good job of getting the core group together."
- Delany said the Big Ten's new bowl lineup, beginning in the 2014 season, could have "a lot" of new games. The Big Ten could share tie-ins with other leagues and should have more say in which teams go where. Delany hopes to have a full lineup in place for approval by the league's presidents in early June. I'll have more on the bowls Thursday.
- The Big Ten is in the early stages of finding a location for its East Coast office. The office could be included in the existing office of one of the league's television partners. New York is the most likely destination for the office, Delany said.