CHICAGO — Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany addressed a number of topics during his opening speech at Big Ten Media Days on Monday, beginning with the confirmation of a six-year deal with FOX to air 25 football games and 50 basketball games.
The deal was first reported by John Ourand and Michael Smith of Sports Business Daily on April 19, 2016, and said that it will run for six years. The deal will allow those games to be aired on both the broadcast channel and FS1. It will begin in the fall of 2017 and will cost FOX $250 million per year.
This represents half of the media package for the Big Ten, with ESPN and CBS essentially combining to own the second half until the conference reopens bidding on that other half of the deal. ESPN, CBS, NBC and Turner are all expected to compete for that package.
“We’re in a great place,” Delany said. “To have (FOX) as a partner for the next six years is gratifying and exciting.”
Delany also announced the conference will now allow conference members to schedule FCS opponents, going back on a rule implemented last season.
He said it can be very difficult to get three FBS opponents on a schedule, and so the conference will allow schools to schedule a game against an FCS opponent in years when a team in the conference has fewer than four conference home games.
He did add though the conference will allow teams to play FCS opponents, there are several factors for encouraging programs to assemble tougher schedules, which includes impressing the College Football Playoff committee.
In addition to those past two topics, Delany was also asked about a rule change implemented by Indiana that does not allow any athletes with former sexual assault charges to compete for the university, and whether he would enforce that rule for all teams in the conference.
He said while the conference has had discussions about implementing that rule conference-wide, the Big Ten will allow each school to determine that policy on its own and will not force it on any of the schools.
“We recognize that some conferences have adopted policies, adjusted policies,” Delany said. “Institutions will determine whether someone’s prior conduct should prevent someone from playing in the Big Ten conference.”
Lastly, Delany was asked about Chris Spielman’s lawsuit against Ohio State. Delany said he does not know much about the case despite having read a few articles about it, and from a Big Ten perspective, he did not have a comment.
“We’re defending what I’ve tried to say from the beginning is people have the right to bring a case and the rights to defend themselves,” Delany said.