James E. Delany
(born 1948) is the current commissioner of the of the Big Ten Conference
, a role in which he has served since 1989. He is regarded among college athletics as being influential in the creation of the Bowl Championship Series
and its maintenance.
James Delany grew up in South Orange, New Jersey
and attended Saint Benedict's Preparatory School
in Newark, New Jersey
. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
, where he received a Bachelor of Arts
degree in Political Science
in 1970. While a student there he played for the university's basketball team
, playing on two squads that reached the NCAA Final Four
. His senior season he was co-captain of the team.
He remained at Carolina for law school, receiving his law degree in 1973.
From 1973 to 1974 Delany was employed as counsel to the North Carolina
Senate Judiciary Committee. From there, he was hired to the position of staff attorney for the North Carolina Justice Department. In 1975 he moved on to a position in the National Collegiate Athletic Association
, working as an enforcement representative. He remained in this position for four years before moving on to the Ohio Valley Conference
as its commissioner. He remained commissioner of that conference until 1989 when he was appointed commissioner of the Big Ten Conference.
Memberships and other positions held include a member of the Collegiate Commissioners Association (CCA), a member of the College Basketball Partnership, vice president of USA Basketball Executive Committee and a member of the board of directors of the University of North Carolina General Alumni Association.
Accomplishments as Big Ten Conference commissioner
During his tenure as commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, Delany has overseen:
- The expansion of the league to 11 schools.
- Established guaranteed participation in seven different bowl games.
- Development and implementation of the first college football instant replay system.
- An increase in average Big Ten football game attendance from 58,000 per game to 72,000 per game by 2005.
- Helped in negotiations with CBS to achieve a US$6 billion 11 year contract for men's basketball NCAA tournament games.
Due to his position, Delany controls a significant amount of power with regards to the BCS. 25% of all U.S. households are in the geographic region covered by the Big Ten Conference. This has had major implications on his influence over college football.
Mr. Delany opposes the idea of a college football playoff system, arguing that a playoff would diminish the value of regular season games. Detractors to this argument do not believe that this would be true, and that a playoff system would add value to the sport by allowing for a fair way to determine a college football champion.
James Delany is married to Catherine Fisher Delany, with whom he has two sons.