Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is set to receive bonus payments that will in total be worth $20 million, USA Today reported Friday. The newspaper obtained the conference’s most recent federal tax return, which states that Delany “became fully eligible for future bonus payments pursuant to his employment contract” in July of 2015.
The conference reported an annual revenue of $483.4 million, which is reportedly double what it recorded back in 2010. Those numbers could go even higher with the television deals on the horizon. Last April, it was reported that the conference was close to selling "essentially half" of its broadcast rights to Fox for $1.5 billion over six years in its next TV deal.
In 2015, Delany made nearly $2.4 million, per USA Today.
But wait, all this money, and there still isn’t enough money to pay the players who bring in all of this revenue?
CEOs and sports commissioners make a lot of money these days, and the Big Ten’s value has greatly increased under Delany’s watch.
For his part, Delany’s not exactly here for the comparison between his salary and the lacking compensation of college athletes.
"The optics are what the writers make of them," Delany said. "For me, we have an obligation -- legal -- to share a 990 [tax return], which we have [with USA Today] …
"For me, I'm active, interested. [College athletics] has been important to me for more than 50 years. I continue to believe in it. I think the apt comparison is probably not with the student. I don't think it ever has been. I understand people will make that connection. I just don't make it."
Still, he must be glad he didn’t decide to do what he wrote in 2013, back when it looked like the O'Bannon trial might force everybody to pay players more:
It has been my longstanding belief that The Big Ten's schools would forgo the revenues in those circumstances and instead take steps to downsize the scope, breadth and activity of their athletic programs.
Several alternatives to a 'pay for play' model exist, such as the Division III model, which does not offer any athletics-based grants-in-aid, and, among others, a need-based financial model.
These alternatives would, in my view, be more consistent with The Big Ten's philosophy that the educational and lifetime economic benefits associated with a university education are the appropriate quid pro quo for its student athletes.
(He later admitted the rest of the conference wouldn't agree with such a drastic maneuver, meaning this was bullshit dressed up to sound like a firm moral stance against giving players a bigger piece of a growing and massive pie. Delany does like to talk a lot, and at the O'Bannon trial, he basically ended up as an O'Bannon witness.)
Bonuses aside, Delany’s total compensation is on the lower end when it comes to what his fellow Power 5 commissioners made in 2015, according to USA Today.
- Mike Slive, former SEC commissioner: $4.3 million
- Larry Scott, Pac-12: $3 million
- Bob Bowlsby, Big 12: $2.7 million
- John Swofford, ACC: $2.7 million
Wouldn’t it be nice if Delany were able to shell out some of that bonus money to the players?