Some really big news out of the Big Ten this morning: Commissioner Jim Delany will retire after his current term runs out on June 30, 2020.
The Big Ten’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors has started a search process to ultimately replace Delany, with Northwestern president Morton Shapiro leading the charge.
“It’s been an amazing opportunity to serve and lead these preeminent institutions, presidents, administrators, coaches and students,” Delany said in a statement released by the conference. “It is incredibly fulfilling to support the hundreds of thousands of young men and women who have been afforded an opportunity to obtain best-in-class educations as a result of the invaluable, one-of-a-kind lessons learned through the unique combination of athletic and classroom competition. I would like to recognize and thank each of my colleagues for being such invaluable members of, and contributors to, the Big Ten Conference team, while acknowledging that there is still plenty of work to be done. I look forward to continuing that work through the balance of my term.”
Delany has been the Big Ten’s commissioner since 1989 and has lead the conference into a new era of college sports with some bold moves and innovative decisions. He oversaw the expansion to 11 programs with the addition of Penn State in 1993, and he led a second expansion in 2014, with Nebraska, Rutgers and Maryland joining the league. He also guided the Big Ten to implement the first replay system in major college football and, of course, the launch of the Big Ten Network has brought a wider range of notoriety — in addition to billions in extra revenue — for conference programs since 2007.
The conference will have some time, of course, to search for a replacement. But, Delany announced a few years ago he felt he was approaching a retirement from the commissioner’s post, and one name that always seems to get mentioned as a potential replacement was Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips. Not sure it ultimately goes that way, but there are certainly some interesting candidates among athletic directors around the conference.