Big Ten’s Delany says old mistakes to blame for college woes

CHICAGO (AP) — Outgoing Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany kicked off his final Big Ten football media days Thursday by saying he thinks some serious mistakes were made in the 1970s that still create problems today in college athletics.

Delany, who is in his 31st and final year as commissioner, said the loss of the four-year scholarship, the ending of the $15 weekly “laundry” stipend for athletes and allowing freshmen to play have all contributed to various headaches.

“I think that’s really expedited everything and hasn’t allowed for the full socialization, cultural and academic, for students,” he said. “I raised that issue about five years ago, and to be honest with you, there was not much of a reaction. It was more of a thud. So I would say some of those areas are issues that have concerned me”

In the mid-’70s, the NCAA ruled schools no longer could provide athletes with a monthly living expenses stipend. “Cost of attendance” stipends have only recently been offered to certain athletes amid lawsuits against the NCAA, schools and conferences over everything from athlete safety to compensation.

Delany will retire in 2020 and Kevin Warren will take over on Jan. 2. Warren is a former chief operations officer of the Minnesota Vikings and he will be the first black commissioner of the 14-member Big Ten.

“Kevin is a smart, experienced executive, lots of NFL and legal experience,” Delany said. “He’s also a former student-athlete. He’s a parent of a couple student-athletes. But importantly, just based on my short interaction with Kevin and talking to the other people who know him well, your sixth commissioner of the Big Ten is going to be a great leader for this conference.”

Delany said he and Warren will begin working together on Sept. 16.

“When he comes in, what we’re trying to do is to use that time in a way that gives him a sense of the rhythm of the conference,” Delany said. “So we’ll have conference commissioners’ meetings at the Big Ten, we’ll have joined group meetings. He’ll be around for those. We’ve also invited external partners in from all over the country, from television to bowls to other groups.”

During his tenure, Delany added Penn State, and then helped the Big Ten land Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers 20 years later to expand to its current 14 teams. Delany oversaw the creation of the Big Ten championship game in football, as well as the launch of the Big Ten network.

The Big Ten was also the first conference to implement an instant replay system during Delany’s tenure.


Michigan State and Ohio State each placed two players on the preseason all-Big Ten team. Junior running back J.K. Dobbins and defensive end Chase Young were the Buckeyes and linebacker Joe Bachie and defensive end Kenny Willekes, two seniors, were named for the Spartans.

Penn State junior defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos was the fifth player on the East Division team. The West list included Northwestern junior linebacker Paddy Fisher, Wisconsin junior running back Jonathan Taylor, Iowa junior defensive end A.J. Epenesa, Nebraska sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez and Purdue sophomore wide receiver/return specialist Rondale Moore.

A media panel selected the 10-member list, which included six defensive players.


Keith Jenkins can be reached at


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