Big Ten's Delany frowns on 'fair pay' law

Adam Jardy
Former Ohio State center Micah Potter, who left the team before last season and eventually transferred to Wisconsin, has yet to receive clearance from the NCAA to be eligible for the start of the upcoming season. [Fred Squillante/Dispatch]

CHICAGO — Jim Delany said at Big Ten men’s basketball media day Wednesday that he does not support the idea of college athletes profiting from their likeness, calling it a slippery slope toward a pay-to-play system.

In a 20-minute news conference that marked the start of media day, the outgoing conference commissioner fielded multiple questions on the newly signed California Senate Bill 206 — known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, which will allow players to earn money off their name, image and likeness — and reiterated his opposition to the law on multiple fronts.

“My view is that there may be some players who are ready for the professional ranks, but that’s not the college ranks,” Delany said. “And I would like to see players who are ready for the professional ranks be able to access the professional game, either through the (basketball G League) or I’d like to see the owners and the unions open up opportunities for young people, as you have in baseball.

Most of the conference's coaches were asked about the situation throughout the day. Some professed not to have studied it well enough to have an opinion. Others, like Ohio State’s Chris Holtmann and Minnesota’s Richard Pitino, expressed support for the notion that players should be able to profit from their likenesses.

Delany said he draws a line at colleges paying for more than the cost of attendance and also addressed what his message would be to students who feel they are entitled to a share of the league’s revenue, which measures in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

“My point would be that the student who plays athletics in the Big Ten is in school for education first, that there’s an amazing opportunity to get a world-class education here, and there’s also amazing opportunity to compete in a great conference with great recognition and, if they so choose, to prepare themselves to be a professional someday,” he said.

No resolution for Potter

After quitting the Ohio State program days before the start of his junior season and ultimately transferring to Wisconsin, Micah Potter filed a waiver to allow him to play for the Badgers without sitting out a full calendar year.

Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said there’s no indication that the waiver will be approved and that the Badgers are simply in a waiting mode.

Asked about the situation, Holtmann said that not only did he submit a written letter on Potter’s behalf but athletic director Gene Smith did, too.

“Micah’s a great kid,” Holtmann said. “It’s not awkward. These things happen in college basketball. We wish him well. I don’t know where it’s at; I just know we lent our support.”

Ohio battle?

With the move to 20 conference games, the Big Ten schedule limits some of Ohio State’s flexibility as it comes to non-conference opponents. It is also having an impact on a proposed annual Ohio event that would pit Cincinnati, Dayton, Xavier and Ohio State against each other.

“I’m not saying we’re never going to do it, so don’t quote me saying it’s never going to happen, but (20 Big Ten games) just limits the flexibility,” Holtmann said. “We’re going to have to really push it through to make that happen.”


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