Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is known for saying whatever he wants. Unfortunately, that tendency is hurting the NCAA, the side he testified for in the O'Bannon case on Friday.
In his cross-examination, Delany discussed all the ways the NCAA is currently doing a poor job of integrating athletics and academics — the exact opposite of what the organization needs to prove.
That's okay to do in speeches designed to help with public relations, because it shows Delany recognizes the issues in college sports and allows him to talk about his plans to fix the system. However, the O'Bannon trial is about what's going on right now, and it can't help the NCAA's case that one of its commissioners and witnesses is criticizing the model, from competitive balance to the balance of school and sports.
Moreover, the fact that Delany was called to testify allowed the plaintiffs to produce documents from the Big Ten that are damaging to the NCAA's case. This has become a pattern, as the plaintiffs did the same with the testimony of Texas women's athletic director Chris Plonsky and former CBS president Neal Pilson.
Here's a sampling from Delany's testimony:
Athlete time commitments
Delany again say too much time spent on sports: "Yes, too much athletics for too many young people produces strained young bodies. "— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) June 20, 2014
Delany on proposed reforms: "We’re tring to take a look at these things and see how we can make a good thing better."— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) June 20, 2014
At this point, Jim Delany is now basically functioning as a plaintiffs' witness. Saying athletes need more time to pursue education.— Brady McCollough (@BradyMcCollough) June 20, 2014
If athletes spend too much time on their sports, how can the NCAA argue that it needs its rules to maintain a proper balance on academics and athletics? Delany's testimony shows that not only are the rules irrelevant to that balance, they might be hurting it.
The use of athletes' likenesses
Line from Big Ten Network release reads, "I agree that I nor my heirs shall be entitled to any compensation for the use of my name..."— Ben Strauss (@bstrauss1) June 20, 2014
If players have no NIL rights and no marketplace for them, why does Big Ten have players sign release?— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) June 20, 2014
The NCAA argues that it doesn't have to pay athletes money for their broadcast rights, because those broadcast rights don't exist. But if they don't exist, why do the athletes have to sign a waiver to give them up? This argument previously came under fire in an examination of various other television contracts.
Delany quoted as saying it's "painfully obvious it's not all a level playing field" in USA Today q&a— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) June 20, 2014
Hausfeld showing Delany a quote from Delany: "It isn't a level playing field, and any level-playing field philosophy is under attack."— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) June 20, 2014
In his testimony, Delany backed up the NCAA's claim that paying players would ruin the competitive balance that the current rules promote. However, earlier this year, Delany said that competitive balance in college sports is non-existent.
Delany is who he is, and he's always going to say ridiculous things in public. But with that in mind, why did the NCAA call him to the witness stand?