Longtime Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany will step down after his current contract expires on June 30, 2020, the conference announced Monday.
Delany, 71, has run the conference since 1989, and along the way ushered his conference into college sports’ post-modern era — while dragging the rest of the country along with him. He spearheaded the addition of Penn State almost immediately after his arrival from the Ohio Valley Conference, then executed his masterstroke through the creation of the Big Ten Network, the first of its kind. BTN allowed the Big Ten to become the first conference to distribute $20 million to its member institutions, and a dozen years later that number is now above $50 million.
It was Delany’s pursuit of Nebraska in 2010 (and later Rutgers and Maryland) that kicked off the realignment frenzy that eventually touched every corner of the college sports landscape, and the BCS and College Football Playoff would still be nothing more than ideas on a cocktail napkin if not for Delany’s blessing.
“It’s been an amazing opportunity to serve and lead these preeminent institutions, presidents, administrators, coaches and students,” said Delany. “It is incredibly fulfilling to support the hundreds of thousands of young men and women who have been afforded an opportunity to obtain best-in-class educations as a result of the invaluable, one-of-a-kind lessons learned through the unique combination of athletic and classroom competition. I would like to recognize and thank each of my colleagues for being such invaluable members of, and contributors to, the Big Ten Conference team, while acknowledging that there is still plenty of work to be done. I look forward to continuing that work through the balance of my term.”
The Big Ten’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors has already begun a search to identify its successor, led by Northwestern president Morton Schapiro. NU AD Jim Phillips is seen by those in the know as the clubhouse leader for the job.
“Jim has had an extraordinary impact on the Big Ten Conference, its member institutions, administrators, students and coaches since 1989,” said Schapiro. “He has been a forward-thinking, collaborative and decisive leader in every aspect of conference proceedings. We thank him for his dedicated service to date and look forward to working with him through the conclusion of his contract.”