Jim Delany, Grumpy Old Man, Threatens to Make Big Ten D3
Every few months Jim Delany, in his role as collegiate athletics most grumpy old man, picks up the baseball that the little kids have knocked over his fence, brings it next door, and lectures the kids on the need for them to play more carefully.
This is that month.
SI.com's Andy Staples included Jim Delany's declaration in support of the NCAA in the Electronic Arts player lawsuit that could bankrupt the NCAA. You can read that declaration here. In pertinent part Delany argues that if the players are certified as a class-action group and go on to win their lawsuit -- as a practical matter the NCAA would try and settle as soon as the case was certified -- that the Big Ten would leave behind the present intercollegiate model in favor of one more akin to Division 3 sports. In case you're not aware, D3 sports do not provide scholarships for their athletes.
Yes, Jim Delany really said the Big Ten would stop giving scholarships if the American court system ruled that the NCAA had violated American law. (SEC football fans immediately responded, "The Big Ten gives out scholarships?")
It's truly an amazing position, the conference commissioner equivalent of threatening to take your ball and go home after you struck out swinging in a game of wiffle ball when you were six years old.
Newsflash, if the NCAA loses this lawsuit it's because the NCAA's position violated the law for decades. This would mean the NCAA was in the wrong the entire time, that the universities had been unfairly taking advantage of powerless and poor athletes. Delany's response to this ruling? To finding out that his preferred world view, making gobs of money off the sweat equity of the unpaid?
If athletic indentured servitude is impermissible, I don't want to be involved in the games at all.
Think about how crazy this position is. Jim Delany has done the impossible, he's actually come up with the worst argument in the history of collegiate athletics.
It's an absurd, illogical, and completely untenable position for many reasons, but let's count the ways that the Big Ten as a D3 league would be absurd:
1. The Big Ten has billions of dollars in existing contracts predicated on being involved in major college athletics.
Those contracts are with television partners, coaches, construction companies building new stadiums, member universities, and countless corporations across the country.
Under what grounds, pray tell, could the Big Ten join D3 without facing billions of dollars in legal liability over the plummeting value of D3 Big Ten athletics? Put simply, there are no grounds.
The Big Ten would face billions of dollars in lawsuits. would suddenly lack the ability to pay off substantial construction upgrades with existing revenue streams, and would be breaching all agreements by deciding to go D3.
Now, I suppose the Big Ten could slowly unravel existing contracts and not renew all of them as they ended, but do you really think that a decade long decline to D3 status is really feasible? Of course it isn't.
Delany might as well have said that the Big Ten will all move to Canada if the NCAA loses this lawsuit. It's every bit as feasible.
Yep, Jim Delany has made the most ridiculous argument in the history of college athletics. Which is saying something.
You think you're mad at Jim Delany?
Maryland is being sued for $52 million dollars for leaving the ACC to join the Big Ten. What if Maryland paid $52 million to join the Big Ten just as the league announced it was going D3? Would Maryland be able to rejoin the ACC? Would the ACC kick Louisville back out in favor of Maryland? Could Louisville rejoin the Big East?
Plainly, all of this is absurd.
Maryland by itself would have hundreds of millions of dollars in legal claims against the Big Ten.
Although it would be the most Rutgers move ever for the school to join the Big Ten just in time for the conference to go D3.
3. Urban Meyer would personally strangle Jim Delany to death before this could happen.
Can you imagine what Urban Meyer's reaction was when news broke that his conference commissioner was saying the league might go D3? All Urban Meyer cares about is recruiting right now. That's it. The kinder, gentler Urban Meyer that's supposed to exist in Buckeye Country?
That kindler, gentler Meyer would hold Delany by his ankles outside an open window above a busy street until Delany relented to his worldview.
4. You thought the Big Ten had speed issues before?
Wait until every D3 running back is white.
Call me crazy, but I'm guessing Oberlin's wideouts don't take the top off the defense too often.
5. Can you imagine the Big Ten alumni reactions?
I really think Jim Delany's house would be burned down and he'd be tarred a feathered like a loyalist during the Revolutionary War.
Alumni would riot.
Who funds just about everything on campus these days? The alumni. So it's generally not that smart to make them angry.
6. How crazy is Jim Delany's D3 proposal?
Even Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds is thinking, "Boy, he really needs to think before he speaks sometimes."
7. The case will settle.
If the class-action is certified, which I think it will be, then this case, already pending for four years now, will probably settle. The NCAA won't risk bankruptcy and the plaintiff's lawyers will want to lock in a payday for the enormous expense in legal fees they've fronted over the past several years.
The settlement will be massive, but the NCAA has a ton of money.
Delany's declaration makes it seem like the
8. Penn State covered up child rape to keep a popular football coach in power.
What would Penn State do if you threatened to turn their football team into a D3 program?
I don't think Jim Delany wants to find out.
9. The presidents of the Big Ten schools don't have the power they think they do.
Even if they all agreed to adopt a D3 model -- which I don't believe they'd ever do -- the big donors control the purse strings of universities. And what fuels big donor contributions more than anything? Athletics. How quickly do you think top donors would stop their donations to the university if the Big Ten schools really attempted this move?
Which would end all discussions of the Big Ten going D3.
We all serve at the beck and call of those with money, but that's especially the case if you're a non-profit educational institution that's receiving less and less state money every year. Major administrators at big universities are really just glorified fundraisers.
10. In case you haven't noticed, Jim Delany often makes comments that have no basis in reality.
Remember when the Big Ten wouldn't support a playoff? And wouldn't be expanding?
How did both of those situations work out?
Yep, thought so.
Ultimately, Jim Delany's D3 threat is the most ridiculous argument he's ever made.
Which is really saying something. Give Delany credit for at least one thing -- he's just advanced the most ridiculous argument in the history of college athletics.