James E. Delany
Only the Big Ten's fifth commissioner since its founding in 1896, James E. Delany enters his 24th year in that role. He has led the Big Ten through significant periods of change and growth that have helped the conference maintain its preeminent position as one of the nation's leaders in providing quality athletic and academic experiences for young people.
Delany has guided the conference through expansion twice with the addition of Penn State in June of 1991 and Nebraska in July of 2011. The Big Ten now administers more than $136 million in athletic scholarship aid to nearly 10,000 student-athletes, which is more than any other conference.
Under Delany's guidance, the Big Ten Conference has been a national leader in student-athlete welfare, gender equity and innovation. In the summer of 2012, the Big Ten announced a partnership with the Ivy League to engage in co-sponsored, cross-institutional research collaboration to study the effects of head injuries in sports. The Big Ten has also implemented conference-wide sportsmanship initiatives, including the Big Ten Sportsmanship Awards. The conference's Gender Equity Action Plan, initiated in 1992, has resulted in the creation of 28 new conference teams and more than 2,000 new opportunities for women. The Big Ten also developed the first collegiate football version of instant replay, which was implemented during the 2004 season.
The Big Ten Conference has seen unprecedented levels of national television coverage during Delany's tenure, highlighted by the creation of the Big Ten Network (BTN). BTN is the first national conference-owned television network devoted to the athletic and academic programs of a single conference and launched in August of 2007 as a joint-venture with FOX. Delany has also negotiated extensions of ABC, CBS Sports and ESPN agreements and reached a media agreement with FOX to serve as the official broadcast partner of the 2011-16 Big Ten Football Championship Games. These agreements result in the production and distribution of nearly 1,000 events annually.
Big Ten teams have been successful during Delany's time as commissioner as teams from 21 different sports have won NCAA, BCS or national championships since 1989, including seven national team titles during the 2011-12 season. Each of the top 10 single-season football attendance records have been established during Delany's tenure, while men's basketball has led the country in attendance each of the last 36 seasons. The Big Ten has also added conference 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 also been active in the community, creating and expanding the community outreach program SCORE (Success Comes Out of Reading Everyday). For the last 23 years, the conference has partnered with two Chicago elementary schools to improve reading performance, an initiative that has benefitted over 6,500 children. The Big Ten has also established numerous community programs surrounding its men's and women's basketball tournaments and football championship game.
The 64-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. As a Tar Heel, Delany twice participated in NCAA Final Four competition.
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.
updated June 2012