CHICAGO — Commissioner Jim Delany took the road less traveled Wednesday in his state of the conference speech at Big Ten media days.
Instead of hammering the NCAA for shaky leadership and calling for massive change like fellow leaders of three other power conferences did recently, Delany offered a four-point plan the NCAA can use to “re-earn” some of the support college athletics is losing.
1. Creating an educational trust that commits each school to giving any student who attended on full scholarship a lifetime opportunity to graduate.
2. A review of the time demands placed on athletes, with the knowledge that the actual time spent on their sport often far exceeds the current 20-hour limit on practice time.
3. Look at whether “at-risk” students are ready to enter school and compete. If not, consider allowing a year of residency that is paid for and keeps four years of eligibility.
4. Implement a “miscellaneous expense” plan that would add $2,000 to $5,000 a year to scholarships.
Delany has supported NCAA President Mark Emmert through recent strong criticism, and he continued that Wednesday.
“Mark has done some good things, and Mark has made some mistakes,” Delany said. “But I would tell you this: Running the NCAA is a real challenge, and most of the problems we confront today preceded Mark Emmert.
“We've tried to work with him in every way we can on every major issue that has come up. So I wish him the best and have no motive other than to see him and the NCAA succeed.”
In the Big Ten meetings in May, Delany told reporters it would be “unhealthy” for the five major football-playing conferences to break away from the NCAA. He said he still believes that.
“There's a lot of political momentum for change at the NCAA,” Delany said. “I don't think there's a major conference that disagrees with that.
“And from all my conversations with my colleagues, they think change is at hand. It's a matter of doing the detailed work on it. I don't think the need to threaten or walk out is going to be there.”
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