James E. Delany
Only the Big Ten's fifth commissioner since its founding in 1896, James E. Delany is in the midst of his 25th year with the conference. He has led the Big Ten through significant periods of growth that have helped the conference maintain its preeminent position as one of the nation's leaders in providing quality academic and athletic experiences for young people.
Delany has led the conference through multiple expansions including the additions of Penn State in June 1991 and Nebraska in July 2011. With the announcement in November 2012 that Maryland and Rutgers would become the conference's 13th and 14th members, the conference footprint will stretch from Nebraska to the East Coast.
Under Delany's guidance, the Big Ten has been a national leader in broad-based programming, student-athlete welfare, gender equity and innovation. The Big Ten administers more than $141 million in athletic scholarship aid to more than 8,200 student-athletes. In the fall of 2013, the Big Ten debuted men's ice hockey as the conference's 26th official sport, giving the Big Ten more sponsored sports than every conference but the Ivy League. In 2014-15, men's and women's lacrosse will become the conference's 27th and 28th official sports and Johns Hopkins University will join the conference as a sport affiliate member for men's lacrosse only.
Under Delany, the Big Ten has been a champion for Title IX. The conference was the first to voluntarily adopt participation goals for female student-athletes as the Big Ten initiated the Gender Equity Action Plan in 1992. The Big Ten leads all conferences with nearly 3,900 female student-athletes and more than 550 televised or streamed women's athletic events. Big Ten women's teams have claimed more than 120 NCAA titles. The Big Ten also developed the first collegiate football version of instant replay, which was implemented during the 2004 season. The conference has applied numerous initiatives under Delany's leadership, including Sportsmanship Awards beginning in 2003 and Postgraduate Scholarships starting with the 2012-13 academic year. In the summer of 2012, the Big Ten announced a partnership with the Ivy League to study the effects of head injuries in sports.
The Big Ten has seen unprecedented levels of national television coverage during Delany's tenure, highlighted by the creation of the Big Ten Network (BTN). Launched in August 2007 as a joint-venture with FOX, BTN is the first national conference-owned television network devoted to a single conference. Delany has also negotiated media agreements with ABC, CBS Sports and ESPN, while FOX serves as the official broadcast partner of the 2011-16 Big Ten Football Championship Games. Through these agreements, more than 1,200 events are distributed annually.
Delany has seen teams from 23 different sports win NCAA, BCS or national championships, with seven winning national titles during the 2012-13 academic year. The top 10 single-season football attendance records have been established in his tenure, while men's basketball has led the country in attendance for the last 37 seasons through the 2012-13 campaign. The Big Ten has also added tournaments for men's and women's basketball as well as challenge series with the ACC, Big 12 and SEC.
Delany and the Big Ten have been active in the community, creating the school outreach program SCORE (Success Comes Out of Reading Everyday). For the last 25 years, the conference has partnered with Chicago elementary schools to improve reading performance. The Big Ten has also established numerous community programs surrounding its men's and women's basketball tournaments and football championship game.
The 66-year old Delany is a native of South Orange, N.J. He received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of North Carolina in 1970 and juris doctorate degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1973. At UNC, Delany was a three-year member of the varsity basketball team, serving as tri-captain in 1970 and twice participating in NCAA Final Four competition. In September 2012, Delany received the UNC Distinguished Alumni Award.
After earning his law degree, Delany served as counsel for the North Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee from 1973 to 1974, and was staff attorney for the North Carolina Justice Department from 1974 to 1975.
updated April 2014