|Delany backs changes to NCAA with concerns|
|Thursday, July 25, 2013 12:11 AM|
CHICAGO — Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany knows change is coming to the NCAA, major developments that will alter the landscape of college sports.
He just wants to make sure it’s done right.
Speaking Wednesday at the league’s media days in a Chicago hotel, Delany echoed the chorus of major conference commissioners calling for a new model when it comes to the governing body of college athletics. But he said it’s important to address the issues at the center of their concerns.
“I’m in favor of whatever restructuring that will lead to what I would consider to be resolving or improving certain areas where I think we’re weak,” he said. “If we restructure the NCAA and don’t address some of the substantive concerns, I wonder why we have restructured.”
With the start of the college football season on the horizon, it’s clear that conference commissioners across the country are talking seriously about the future of the athletic departments at their schools. The leaders of the Big 12, Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference have offered their critiques of the NCAA over the last week.
It looks as if considerable alterations are a foregone conclusion and it’s not very far away, either.
“Very optimistic we’ll get it,” Delany said. “And I think we may get it within a year. And I think the conference commissioners that I’ve spoken with throughout the range of Division I are open for that discussion.
“I think it’s necessary and it’s a traditional organization and it needs to innovate as we all do, and I’m pretty optimistic that we do that. But I want us also to keep in mind why we’re doing it and I think it’s to make better connections between our athletes, the educational and the athletic experience.”
Delany’s top priorities for a restructured NCAA include a lifetime commitment to education, an examination of the time demands placed on athletes, the eligibility structure for at-risk students and an additional grant for full-scholarship athletes — a hot-button issue for mid-major schools.
All the commissioners from the major conferences have pushed for a stipend for athletes that would add about $2,000 to an athletic scholarship to cover the full cost of attendance but it could not be passed because smaller schools explained they couldn’t afford it.
“It’s the right thing to do,” said Delany, who played college basketball for North Carolina. “Whether that’s 2,000, 3,000, or 4,000, I don’t know, but we need to address that.”
Delany also thinks the NCAA should do more to help at-risk students, without providing an exact definition of what he meant by the term. He proposed a year of residence before the four years of eligibility kicks in.
“I think everybody is in favor of giving people a shot,” he added. “Everybody’s in favor of raising standards and raising outcomes. But I think when you admit an at-risk student, you have to seriously consider the year of readiness.”
—Delany provided a mixed review of NCAA President Mark Emmert, saying he had done some good things and also made some mistakes.
“Running the NCAA is a real challenge and most of the problems that we confront today preceded Mark Emmert,” he said. “So the fundamental challenges to institutions, conferences in the NCAA, were there before Mark ever walked into the door.”
—The long-time commissioner believes the O’Bannon antitrust case could go to the Supreme Court if the plaintiffs are successful.
Former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon is part of a group of current and former athletes who believe they are owed billions of dollars, saying the NCAA allowed their likenesses to be used in video games without compensation.
“I don’t think that the O’Bannon case represents the best interests of intercollegiate athletics,” Delany added. “I don’t know how it will be resolved. It will be litigated. And I think it will be litigated all the way to the Supreme Court, if the plaintiffs are successful. I don’t think there’s any compromise on that.”
Michigan’s Gardner set at QB: Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner enters the season with his position secure despite calling signals in just five games last year.
Gardner, who spent most of the season at wide receiver, stepped in at quarterback following Denard Robinson’s injury and went 76-of-126 for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns running a pro-style offense.
Speaking Wednesday at Big Ten Media Day at the Hilton Chicago, Michigan safety Thomas Gordon said Gardner has steadily developed into a leader since his first start at quarterback last year.
“He’s grown right into it,” Gordon said. “He’s a lot more comfortable, you can see that. … He’s taken it by the horns and he’s spearheading this team and we look forward to how he (will) do when we go out there Aug. 31.”
Among offseason work was a trip to the recent Manning Passing Camp while also working at home with returning and incoming players.
Best in the country? Chris Borland is flattered that Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen calls the Badgers’ linebacker the best in the county.
Now it’s time to prove it.
“It means a lot because obviously he’s got confidence in me and he comes from a defensive background,” said Borland, who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors last season. “It’s great to hear that. That said, those are just words so I’ve got to play well this fall and prove him right.”
Borland, who started all 13 games last year, enters his senior season with 308 career tackles, 41 1/2 for losses and 13 forced fumbles, the most in school history. He needs just to tie the FBS record of 14, shared by five players.
Borland told reporters he appreciates why the NCAA adopted new rules on targeting players and hits above the shoulders.
“(But) it’s concerning for me as a defensive player,” he added. “You don’t want to get ejected. A lot of times things happen fast on the field. If you don’t anticipate a running back going low and then he does, it could be helmet to helmet. It could be things like that.
Andersen also takes over a Wisconsin program that’s anything but broken.
“I’m not interested in comparing what was different — whether that may have been what we deem as great, good or indifferent,” he said. “There’s going to differences when you take over a program and it’s important to put your own stamp on it.”
Andersen led Utah State to school-record 11 victories in 2012 and had an early introduction to the Badgers with a 2-point loss last year.
Wisconsin returns 16 starters from an 8-6 team that fell 20-14 to Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
The Badgers have won three consecutive Big Ten titles and gave an 11-year bowl streak.
Raising expectations: New Purdue coach Darrell Hazell, a long-time Ohio State assistant, won’t settle for middle of the pack as he returns to the Big Ten after a short but successful run at Kent State.
“One of the first things I said to our team (at) our very first team meeting was that Purdue was perceived in the middle of the Big Ten — never up here, never down here,” he said. “I told them it’s going to take a lot of work but we’re going to climb ourselves out of the middle, we’re going to put this program (into) national prominence for a long time.”
Purdue went 6-7 overall while Hazell was 11-3 overall, 8-0 in the Mid-American Conference East in his second and final Kent State season. He also guided the Golden Flashes to the program’s first bowl game in 40 years.
Hazell spent seven years as an Ohio State assistant.
Patient recruiting: Pat Fitzgerald said recruiting at Northwestern might take more time but extra effort pays off.
“If you look at our history in recruiting, we’re typically a day late, a week late, a month late in potentially offering a young person,” he said. “I know sometimes that frustrates our fans but we’re going to make sure when we offer a young man, that’s someone we truly want to be a part of our football family.”
Northwestern’s recruiting philosophy also heads off potential discipline problems.