James E. Delany
Only the Big Ten's fifth commissioner since its founding in 1896, James E. Delany is in his 26th 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 men and women.
The Big Ten has grown to 14 member institutions during Delany's tenure, including the additions of Penn State in June 1991, Nebraska in July 2011 and Maryland and Rutgers in July 2014. With the conference's footprint now stretching from the Colorado border to the Atlantic Ocean and more than five million alumni across the country, Delany has focused on strengthening traditional relationships while building a presence in a new region.
In October 2013, the Big Ten moved to a new headquarters and meeting center in Rosemont, Ill. In April 2014, the conference announced it would open a second office in New York City and secured satellite office space in Washington, D.C. Throughout the summer of 2014, the Big Ten unveiled future basketball tournament sites in Chicago and Indianapolis, along with an East Coast destination in Washington, D.C. In May 2014, the Big Ten Baseball Tournament set attendance records in Omaha, Neb., while the inaugural Big Ten Hockey Tournament was held in Saint Paul, Minn., in 2014 and will be played in Detroit, Mich., in 2015. In addition, the Big Ten will take part in the largest and most diverse postseason football lineup in conference history beginning in 2014-15, with 12 different bowl partners spread across the country.
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 nearly $200 million in direct financial aid to almost 9,500 student-athletes for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten debuted men's ice hockey last year, and men's and women's lacrosse begins competition during the 2014-15 academic year, with Johns Hopkins University joining as the conference's first sport affiliate member for men's lacrosse in July 2014. The Big Ten now sponsors 28 official sports, more than every conference but the Ivy League.
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 more than 4,300 female student-athletes and features nearly 500 televised or streamed women's athletic events. Big Ten women's teams have claimed more than 110 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 was the first national conference-owned television network. Delany has also negotiated media agreements with ABC, CBS Sports, ESPN and NBC Sports Network, 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 produced and distributed annually.
Delany has seen teams from 25 different sports win national championships, with seven claiming national titles during the 2013-14 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 38 seasons through the 2013-14 campaign. Each year more than 10 million patrons attend Big Ten home contests, as the conference leads the nation in attendance for hockey, volleyball and wrestling in addition to men's basketball. The Big Ten has also added tournaments for men's and women's basketball, men's ice hockey and men's and women's lacrosse, as well as challenge series with various conferences.
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.
Delany's distinguished career in administering intercollegiate athletics began at the NCAA where he was employed as an enforcement representative from 1975-79. For the next decade, he served as commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference before joining the Big Ten in 1989. In October 2014, Delany and the Big Ten were presented the Torch of Liberty Award by the Anti-Defamation League in honor of the conference's commitment to diversity, equality and opportunity for more than a century.
updated October 2014