Jim Delany transcript from Big Ten Media Day

I’m not sure if it makes any sense to post every single transcript from Big Ten Media Day, but if you want to see those, you can visit the fantastic, amazing, God-sends of people that work at ASAP sports and check those out here.

That being said, I think you might all be interested in the state of the union address given by commissioner Jim Delany, who also addressed Penn State and the news about the memo pushing to give him power to fire coaches. That was apparently taken slightly out of context, and Delany said he was only looking for such power in emergency situations such as the one in Penn State when there was a power vacuum after PSU president Graham Spanier was relieved of his duties and athletic director Tim Curley was indicted. Delany said there was only a short window in which he would have wanted to act — the time between PSU football coach Joe Paterno’s statement that the board of trustees shouldn’t worry about his status because he was retiring at the end of the season and the time when the board of trustees elected to fire him. Those two events happened within the span of half a day.

The rest of his transcript follows.

THE MODERATOR:  We’re joined by Commissioner Jim Delany.
COMMISSIONER DELANY:  It’s good to see everybody again.  A lot has happened over the last 12 months.  Nebraska came into the conference last fall.  It’s been a great fit, successful in every way.  Competitively, administratively and culturally just a great fit.  Everybody continues to do on a daily basis what we expect them to do.
We’ve got 298 sports teams.  Over 9500 student‑athletes that go to class.  They compete.  They practice.  We graduated a class, and we’ve got an incoming group.
So this is an exciting time of the year from that perspective.  Also last year we had the inaugural championship game in Indianapolis.  It was a great success.  Not only competitively and artistically, but we were really proud of what happened in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Precursor to a great Super Bowl and their community was just terrific.
I think that the disappointment, we had a highlight, announcement on the collaboration with the Pac‑12 on December28th, and they informed us as a result of their nine‑game schedule they didn’t really think they could pull it together.
We worked really hard.  Got great friendships and relationships out there.  Personified in the Rose Bowl game.  But we weren’t able to do that.  That was disappointing.
I’m going to talk a little bit about that in terms of the impact on the regular season schedule in a moment.  But that was a little bit of a disappointment.  But we’ve moved on beyond that.
The other thing that we spent a lot of time this year on that’s covered extensively was the establishment of a post‑BCS format, four teams inside the Bowls and we think it will actually energize the regular season even more than it has in the past.
I think Roy Kramer deserves a lot of credit in establishing the BCS along with other conferences 15 years ago, had tremendous effect on the regular season.
It was partly national.  Mostly regional, to take it mostly regional and partly national.  So everybody watches everybody else now.  And that was one of the great contributions to college football during my career.  And I think we all want to recognize what he did.
I think the next step is a good step.  And it’s one that we initially were concerned about.  We were concerned that it might end up outside the Bowl system.  Might have a bad effect on the Rose Bowl.  We were concerned that it might be placed in a situation where growth‑‑ we know there’s going to be people that are upset when their team is ranked fifth or sixth and they’re not in.
So we are really concerned about the slippery slope.  But I think the way that it was structured, the agreement that came about among the conferences really speaks to the interest that everybody had in doing what was right for college football.  I think our student‑athletes will benefit, because there will be double the opportunity to play for the brass ring.
I think our fans will benefit because I think that there’s going to be real emphasis on winning championships as well as strength of schedule.
So I think that will encourage us to have stronger non‑conference schedules.  I think that’s a good thing.  And I also think at the end of the day the Rose Bowl benefited because the Rose Bowl needs to evolve.
It’s obvious that there’s a push towards a broadened postseason, but the Rose Bowl’s been very important not only to college football but to this conference over many, many decades, and I think that the signing of the 12‑year agreement with ESPN is a great statement about how relevant the Rose Bowl is.  That time of the day it’s a global event.  So I’ve said many times one of probably the top ten single day sports properties in the world.
I would say also we had a good year competitively, not only in football and basketball, but we won seven national championships in other sports.  And it shows the breadth of the conference and the national reach of the conference and a lot of other areas.
So we’ve had continuing growth with BTN also.  I’m sure you talked to Mark Silverman earlier but we’re proud of that.  It’s on a great trajectory.  It’s established both domestically and internationally, and it’s available in about over 80 million homes and over 25 countries, and I think Big Ten To Go will be available this year pretty much any place in the world where high speed Internet exists.
So that continues to be a good news story.  I couldn’t stand up here without addressing the Penn State case.
I was available about 76 hours ago to 150 media after the NCAA announcements and the Big Ten announcements.  On a personal and professional basis, it’s probably one of the more difficult if not the most difficult situation that I’ve faced every day from the time I saw the ESPN ticker in November of 2011.  In one form or fashion it’s affected us.
As a conference, we’ve tried to be cautious about what we said and when we said it.  We knew there would be a lot of fact‑finding.  Some of that fact‑finding is yet to play out.  There are criminal and civil suits.
But I think that the Freeh report, which has been accepted by the institution, adopted by the NCAA and the Big Ten as a result of Penn State accepting that report is a narrative which is based on a reasonable view of the evidence.
There’s still some who may debate it.  But for purposes of moving forward, it is the record that’s now been adopted by the institution.  It’s led to the NCAA sanctions.  It’s led to the Big Ten sanctions.  And while I think it’s still fresh in everybody’s memory, it is a time that I think the institution and the team can begin to think about moving forward.
What’s clear to me, though, is that justice can never really be served in this case, because the victims can never receive justice.
And that’s just the sad fact of the case.  And while there are ancillary people who impacted the case in one way or another, affected the Big Ten, it’s affected Penn State, obviously.  It’s affected a lot of people who are not involved in any way shape or form with the case, I think you have to just‑‑ you have to recognize that the ten individuals and perhaps many, many more, were damaged and hurt.  And there’s no amount of legal, criminal, civil, NCAA, Big Ten action that can change that or help them.
And so a lot of people want to debate about NCAA penalties or Big Ten penalties, and those debates are fine.  But to me they miss the point very much because they’re not in any way related to what happened to the victims of Sandusky’s actions.
And in fact their side from that point.  I think they’re difficult, challenging and will inhibit competitiveness for a while.  How long, I don’t know.  But they’re definitely very strong penalties.  But I have to tell you the actions that President Erickson has taken from the time he took over, Dave Joyner from the time he took over and Coach O’Brien from the time he took over have been nothing but I think aggressive, like‑minded, and I think demonstrate that‑‑ all three have demonstrated terrific leadership.  It’s been dark in many, many ways, but sometimes it’s darkest before the dawn.
And I think that there are other chapters to play out, but I think in many ways part of this has played out and at least part of it, in part it’s time to move on with respect to the discussion on NCAA and Big Ten penalties.
I took questions from 150 writers about this yesterday.  And I’m happy to do that again today.  A lot of people worry and wonder about whether or not what the NCAA did is a precedent.
I don’t really care if it’s a precedent.  I don’t really care about whether or not they had jurisdiction or whether or not there was an underlying NCAA violation.  There’s been a lot of debate by pundits one way or the other.
The only thing that matters to me is I think the NCAA did have moral authority to act, and I think the Big Ten had moral authority to act.  The relationship between Penn State and the NCAA is a little bit different.  It’s more of a corporate relationship.
But clearly what happened at Penn State as outlined in the Freeh report challenges any organization to step up and do what’s right.  And I think because the Freeh report has been accepted by the institution, it allowed for the NCAA to take its next steps it felt were appropriate.
You can debate them all you want, but in my view they had moral authority and responsibility to act as did the Big Ten.  And so like I say from a personal and professional perspective, a challenging period.
I’ll stop there and take whatever questions you may have on sports issues of the day or on other issues.  Thank you.

Q.  Commissioner, what power, if any, do you think the conference should have in terms of disciplining coaches specifically?
COMMISSIONER DELANY:  There was a little bit written about that last week, and I would say the headlines were interesting, to say the least.
What actually happened in the Penn State situation was we received notice that the president had either resigned or was terminated.  We knew the athletic director had been indicted.  We knew the football coach was telling the Board of Trustees they should get on with better, more important business, he would retire and they should just move on.
My question at that juncture was with a president who had either resigned or been terminated, with an athletic director who had been indicted and a football coach that was telling the Board of Trustees that they should get on with other business, what this would say to the NCAA, to the Big Ten or anybody else who was interested, about where we were at that moment in time.  So I asked our lawyers what authority do I have to act?  The answer was none.  Your authority is limited to unsportsman‑like conduct.
So as our president said, let’s look at the institutional control aspects that were raised by this case.  It was obvious to me that one area that the conference ought to consider with very close oversight and scrutiny is its power to act by the commissioner in an emergency situation, could be suspension or termination, subject to immediate review as soon as the board of directors could get together.
Now how that translates into my desire to terminate coaches is certainly beyond me because the document was actually in the public domain and it could have been read if anybody wanted to read it.
So I do think that this is not David Stern or Roger Goodell type of authority, but at least one time in my 33‑year career it seemed to me that that authority is not inherent; maybe it should have been there but it wasn’t there.
And so when our president said study institutional control, to me that was the gap that they ought to consider.  It’s a proposal.  The presidents have already indicated it’s not a proposal that is under active consideration, which is fine with me, because we’ve turned this over to them after eight months of study.
And I’m happy that I don’t have to have that responsibility.  But in looking at the situation in November of 2011, it seemed to me like it was something that we could have used at the time if the Board of Trustees had not made the move they had made and should have done but couldn’t have done because we didn’t have appropriate authority.
So as a general matter, I think coaches should be hired by institutions.  I think coaches should be rehired by institutions or terminated by institutions but there came a time, there came a time in my 33 years when I was questioning about what our authority was and so that would‑‑ that at least was one idea that was offered for our presidents to consider.

Q.  Commissioner, how difficult is it from a conference standpoint when you have conference teams going to another conference’s campus to recruit their players.  I know it’s unprecedented and you’re kind of dealing with it as you go.  But do you worry that you’re going to have damaged relationships, that sort of thing?
COMMISSIONER DELANY:  Yes, I do.  When our presidents, when the NCAA penalties came down last week and when we were sculpting our own, it was an issue that obviously came up.
We have rules within the conference that makes transfers between conferences more difficult than externally.  A lot of people have written about those.  I’ve been on the side of slightly more liberal interpretations of those because I think that players should have a little more flexibility than what they had under our rules.  In fact, we’ve actually liberalized them in the last year.
So in this case, when the NCAA said that these athletes could transfer, I weighed in with our presidents.  My advice to them was this is not a healthy place for us to be.
Their response, and I think Sally Mason spoke to it, was unanimous.  And that was this is not about competition between and among schools.  It’s about the student‑athlete having a full spectrum of opportunities.  And if they’re free to attend Rutgers or Pittsburgh, they ought to be free to attend Illinois, Missouri, and whatever rules apply as a result of the sanction ought to apply to us.
Now, in executing that, the NCAA has given out a number of interpretations which we’ve passed on to our schools.  We’ve added a little bit of color to those interpretations.
One is I don’t want the communications from compliance director to compliance director.  I want them from athletic director to athletic director.  So I want it to happen at a higher level.
And the other thing, when we were talking‑‑ when I was talking a little bit earlier to our coaches is that I understand that this is where we are.  I argued to some extent against it.  Our presidents were clear and unanimous that they want these students to have the opportunity to go where they want to go and with no exceptions, including Big Ten exceptions.
What I said to our coaches this morning, you know, I get it; this is what the rules are.  And I expect you to operate in a way that makes not sense just under the rules but sense to you as adults and grownups, so that if a player is interested in talking to you or has an interest in your university, so be it.  Those are the rules.  That’s what our presidents want.  That’s what the NCAA wants.
But there comes a point of reasonableness where if a person says I’m not interested, I don’t want to talk to you, move on.  So we’ve tried to, I guess, articulate how this could be damaging and then try to interpret and advise our schools as well as our coaches to act in a reasonable way under very unusual and unprecedented situation.

Q.  Commissioner, I realize that this is a little bit beyond the scope of just the Big Ten, but you said the NCAA had a moral authority to act in Penn State’s case.  What other criminal activity or behavior do you believe the NCAA would have a moral authority to act upon.  For example, should Syracuse basketball be worried?
COMMISSIONER DELANY:  I would say that this case is unique in the sense that I think it involved people with senior executive and management responsibilities in a way that I have no idea.  I have never heard that alleged about Syracuse, one.
I think the other issue is that Penn State adopted‑‑ not only adopted, but authorized the Freeh report and then adopted it.  So that in addition to the moral authority, they had a legal set of findings which the university accepted and embraced and commissioned.
So whenever you have a situation, if this is precedential and I don’t believe that it is, but if you ever had senior executives and a set of findings that the NCAA could rely on that related to a criminal charge, I think perhaps you would‑‑ an institution would have something to worry about, because of the elements or the facts would have some commonality.
But absent those kinds of things, where you don’t have a factual set of findings and you don’t have senior involvement in those findings, I think it’s a stretch to think that this is going to be used in any sort of regular basis.
That’s just an opinion.  But there are a lot of them out there.  I might as well express mine.

Q.  Penn State was censored as far as the Big Ten’s penalties.  How will that affect Penn State’s voice in league meetings going forward, and what kind of constraints are they under?
COMMISSIONER DELANY:  They’re under no constraints.  They’re a full member.  The only impact will be those impacts stated in our release.
So it was a statement of condemnation for actions and inactions.  And other acknowledgments.  There’s a financial penalty and there’s a competitive penalty with respect to conference championships.  But their privileges in membership are in no other way impacted.

Q.  Can you describe while negotiating proper sanctions for Penn State what it was like to consider ramifications, necessary ramifications for the school itself versus nonaffecting the current student‑athletes?
COMMISSIONER DELANY:  Well, our approach was intended to be in light of what might or might not happen at the NCAA.  I would suspect if the NCAA had not acted we might have acted in a broader fashion.
But given the NCAA penalties and the actions taken by the institution, we felt that ours were targeted and appropriate.
They deprived the institution of over $10million going forward.  I think they expressed a sense of disappointment and condemnation.  And I think they also dealt with the issue of eligibility for postseason play.
We’re integrated into the integrity reporting and monitoring process as we should be and to that extent we’ll be working in a tri‑party way with NCAA and Penn State to bring them to a better day with better systems and better procedures.
And beyond that, our presidents felt like Penn State student‑athletes, if it was the NCAA’s decision to allow them to transfer throughout the DivisionI, that DivisionI institutions and those athletes should not be denied, even if there were ruffled feathers, the opportunity to attend Big Ten institutions if they so chose.

Q.  Is the Big Ten going to continue with its format of eight games for football or is that going to change?
COMMISSIONER DELANY:  You know, we’re having good discussions on that.  I think we’re of a unanimous mind to stay at eight games.  We are disappointed in the collaboration.  We would have hoped that the collaboration would have given us an opportunity to do serious scheduling.
One thing that’s really changed since the collaboration is the establishment of four‑team playoffs.  And in that context, there will be a committee, and we think that having more opportunities not fewer to demonstrate strengths around the country is a real opportunity for us.
So that rather than having 36 opportunities, we’ll have 48 opportunities.  I think that there may be an opportunity to continue.  I don’t know that collaboration would be the right word, but I think we’ll try to work with other conferences to figure out ways to enhance schedules in order to allow us to have additional opportunities to demonstrate strength.
That committee is going to have to look with the eye test at conferences.  But it’s also going to have to look at competitive results between conferences, members from conferences, and we think going forward that’s the best way to prepare for the new postseason model.
And so we’ve taken off the moratorium which had been in effect pending the collaboration outcome.  We’ve taken that off so they can begin scheduling, and I suspect going forward you’re going to see enhanced schedules coming from the Big Ten that would put especially those universities that are focused on competing for national championships in a place where not only can they demonstrate strength by winning a Big Ten championship for a championship game but also can demonstrate strength relative to other conferences.

Q.  Tim Beckman admitted earlier that he had eight assistant coaches camped outside the State College campus yesterday at a restaurant.  Based on what you told the coaches earlier in the week and how you wanted that handled, do you have any problem with that?  And did you talk to him about that at all today?
COMMISSIONER DELANY:  I think you said that happened yesterday.  I just laid out what my viewpoint was to the coaches this morning.  So I would hope that they would take that into consideration.  It’s not an NCAA rule.  It’s not a Big Ten rule.
We are trying to put an overlay on this that allows the athlete as much opportunity as the rules allow, that allows for collegial relationships between our schools to be done in the right way.  And also for the athletes and the coaches to interface, if that’s what they want to do.  But I think it should be focused.  And if there’s an opportunity there for a school and a player, that’s great.  If not, they should move on.  That’s my view.  And I didn’t have any discussion with any of the coaches individually about that.

Q.  Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Nebraska are all on NCAA probation currently.  What’s that done to the reputation of the league?
COMMISSIONER DELANY:  Well, I think that’s a fair question and one I’ve thought about.  So I think that‑‑ first of all, I think the Penn State situation certainly needs to be separated from the discussion of Nebraska’s book buying policies.  I think it’s intellectually and morally difficult to even discuss those things in the same sentence.
In the case of Ohio State, you had a coach who lost his job for not being honest about answering questions about tattoos.  I think that also has to be separated and it’s morally and intellectually a stretch to discuss that in the same sentence.
Having said that, there are all three NCAA cases.  And so when you look at NCAA cases, we‑‑ and me in particular‑‑ have never claimed that we don’t have teams on probation or that we don’t have teams that make mistakes.  In fact, if you look at history, not only the last 12 months but the last 30 years, you’d be surprised to find out that any five‑year period the Big Ten has had between four and six or seven teams on probation.
Going back 30 years.  There’s not been a five‑year period where we didn’t.  And if you look at the Big 12 or any of the major conferences you’d find the same thing.
In fact, most of the major conferences over the last 30 years have averaged about one probation per year.  Now, some of those probations are serious.  Really serious.  Involving academic fraud or matters that have happened like at Penn State.
Some are involved in book buying, or some other as I would describe a regulatory case.  So we have not been able to stop probations from occurring at the conference level.
We’ve had I think 32 cases in 30 years.  We’ve had 13 basketball cases.  15 football cases.  We’ve had a few cases of academic fraud.  But some are much worse than others.
What we’ve been intent on since December is really looking harder at the issues of institutional control, concentration and power.
When you hire a coach, the first word that usually comes out of someone as an athletic director or president, a commissioner or search firm is fit.  How does that person fit?  How do they coach?  How do they recruit?  Do they fit the state.  Do they fit the values?
But sometimes after five or ten or 15 years of sustained success, the question gets flipped.  Does the school fit the coach?  Does the school have to accommodate the coach?
So that relationship between coach and institution, are the lines bright, are they clear?  The compliance directors and admissions people and teams of students, and athletic directors, do they have the necessary clarity and does the coach have the necessary clarity?
And I think in the Big Ten more than probably any other conference in the history of collegiate sports we’ve had iconic legendary coaches some who have been great and have worked easily with institutions.  Others who have been more difficult to manage.
And when coaches start, it’s usually pretty easy.  As coaches, because at the NBA, what do they say?  The NBA is a player’s league.  You could argue in college, college is a coach’s league.  And because players move on and coaches stay, the challenge is by institutions to manage that is difficult.
In professional sports, nobody really cares too much.  The marketplace, the people get paid what they get paid.  But there’s no confusion in the NBA or the NFL about who the owner is.  In college sometimes there’s a question about who the owner is because power is diffuse.  Trustees, presidents, faculty, athletic directors, compliance directors.
So our challenge going forward, as I’ve thought seriously about this question, is how do we make the lines brighter?  How do we make sure that the coach fits with the institution and not vice versa?  And so to me that’s what I’ve tried to think about, take away.  We’ve got a document.  We talked a little bit about earlier today.  It’s not about firing coaches.  It’s about clarifying roles even after great success, because these are great people.  They’re competitive people.  They’re fun people.  A lot of our friends, a lot of your friends, a lot of my friends, but we’ve got to make sure at the end of the day maybe this is something that will help us do that, that coaches are‑‑ coaches coach and other people on the campus get to do their job to protect whatever the infrastructure of the institution is in terms of its values, its traditions, et cetera.
I’m hoping that that document will get reviewed in a serious working session by our presidents this fall and that we’ll have something by December for implementation in ’12 and ’13.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.