Jim Delany dropped serious hints that he would not be serving in his present capacity as the commissioner of the Big Ten Conference on July 26, 2016. Delany stated that his contract would end with the Big Ten in 2020 and that he did not expect to be directly involved with television negotiations for the Big Ten in 2023. The statement was made during negotiations for televising the Big Ten games with ESPN.
Delany is the longest servicing college football commissioner that there ever was. He is 68 years of age and will be 72 in 2020. Delany stated that his announcement was not an announcement of retirement or pending plans to retire. Other sources have been cited as stating that Delany would retire in 2020.
Delany stated that he felt good about what he is doing, was healthy, and was unsure of his future with the Big Ten after his contract expires in 2020. He did go on to state that he did not expect to be around to negotiate the next television deal for the Big Ten. He hinted that he would like to continue as long as he felt energetic and healthful.
Delany has been commissioner of the Big Ten for 27 years. He increased attendance at Big Ten football games by 14,000 per game. He negotiated the most lucrative sports broadcast contract to date for NCAA basketball at $11 billion. Instant replay is a Delany invention. Delany was and still is opposed to the college football playoff system.
Delany was most adamant about his desire to continue to help young people achieve their goals and ambitions.
There have been no reports of an impending Delany health crisis. Many Big Ten fans have stated that they want him to stay forever. No successor to Delany has been mentioned and the Big Ten as well as college athletics may be hard pressed to find one who can fill Delany’s shoes.