Delany insists that this is only his belief and that he has not polled his presidents, but he seems confident that if conferences began negotiating with players and schools began paying one type of player more than another, the Big Ten’s schools would not participate. “If that were to happen I think our presidents, our faculties and our boards of trustees would just opt out,” Delany said. “I don’t know what the opt-out means, whether that’s Division III or another model.”
This is insanity. Seriously. Jim Delany is saying that rather than pay football players the Big Ten could just drop out of Division 1A. There would be a massive revolt by everyone if this happened. First and foremost I see no way the university presidents would agree to this. Delany acknowledges that he hasn’t even broached this subject with them, but for some reason things they would be on board. The amount of money and publicity the schools get for football alone is too important. There are allusions to the Ivy Leagues basically doing the same thing decades ago, and while most of the schools in the Big Ten are pretty good academic institutions, they aren’t on the same level as the Ivy Leagues.
Even if the presidents were on board, there are the boosters to consider. How much money would some of these deep pocket boosters donate without the football and basketball programs? It’s easy to say that sports are not important to them, but it’s hard to believe that when so many decisions seem to be motivated by athletic success and failure. There is just no reason to believe that this would be a good move overall for these schools.
Delany has been the conference’s commissioner since 1989. For those bad at math, that’s almost 25 years. He has done plenty for the conference, but most of it monetarily driven. Look at the list: Big Ten Network, three new teams, TV contracts and instant replay. Brian from mgoblog agrees:
And this, of course, is a man who has spent the last twenty years thinking about nothing but money. He created a television network for money. He added Nebraska for money. He split Michigan and Ohio State in the vague hope of getting more money if they played twice. He added Rutgers and Maryland for money despite the fact that 11 of the 12 fanbases in the Big Ten would rather boil themselves in oil than play those teams in anything. Once he is presented with the idea he might have to share some of his money, he threatens to take the whole damn thing out of the system, into another system that will be exposed to the same legal precedent that prevents you from outrageously sharecropping athletes.
Delany has credibility, and one would think, integrity. It’s entirely possible that he would just walk away if this doesn’t go the way he wants. But it’s hard to see that happening. Even if the Big Ten said good-bye to Delany and decided to pay players, it might not work out for everyone.
The system implemented would be really important. Even if the NCAA goes down this road it wouldn’t make sense for teams have to bid against each other for players. Things would just get out of hand way too fast. The “haves” would totally crush the “have nots”. Even within a conference like the Big Ten, it’s hard to see teams like Indiana and Minnesota being able to have any chance to keep up with Michigan and Ohio St.
And fans haven’t even been factored in at this point. The outrage would be monumental. There is no way fans would except this as some sort of “badge of honor”, it would be more like a scarlet ‘A’. So Jim Delany can talk a good game, and he might stick to his guns on a personal level, but this is not a battle he is going to win.