Delany hints at retirement in next few years

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jim Delany speaks to the media Tuesday in Chicago.

Chicago – Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany did not announce retirement plans during his session Tuesday at Big Ten Media Days, but he offered a strong hint about his future.

Delany, who has been the league’s commissioner since 1989, was asked if he intends to renegotiate the Big Ten’s newly-hatched six-year media rights deal when it expires.

“I have a lot of energy, and I have a lot of interest in what’s going on in the college space today,” Delany, 68, said Tuesday. “So I will be around for a bit.

“Whether I’m around here for six years is probably a little bit beyond how I see it.”

Delany expanded on the media package.

“In terms of the six-year period, that’s really where the market was for us,” he said. “It’s a balance between security and the dollars that can be generated in the short term.

“We’ve done 20-year deals in a joint venture. We’ve done 10-year deals. But in this case we thought six provided us some mid-term security. Things are changing, as you know, and they’ll continue to change. But we thought six years for us was the right place to be.”

Delany would not reveal what the actual financial numbers are with regard to the deal.

“It’s the policy of the Big Ten not to confirm media numbers,” he said. “There’s always speculation. People always leak. Sometimes they’re really accurate. Sometimes they’re high and sometimes they’re low.”

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Sports Business Journal reported last month that ESPN will pay $190 annually over the next six years for half of the Big Ten’s media rights package. Fox Sports purchased the other half of those rights in April for an average of $240 million per year, and CBS agreed to a $10 million per year basketball-only deal to televise the Big Ten tournament semifinals and championship game.

In all, the Big Ten’s deals with Fox, ESPN and CBS will average $440 million over the next six years for a total of $2.64 billion, which will nearly triple the conference’s average media rights payout when it takes effect next fall.