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2018 Keynote Speaker
Big Ten Conference
UNC Class of:
Only the Big Ten’s fifth commissioner since 1896, James E. Delany is in his 28th year with the conference. He has led the Big Ten through significant periods of change and growth that have helped the conference maintain its preeminent position as one of the nation’s leaders in providing quality athletic and academic experiences for young people.
The Big Ten has grown to 14 institutions during Delany’s tenure with the additions of Penn State, Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers, and he is focused on strengthening traditional relationships while building a presence in a new region. The Big Ten maintains offices in Rosemont, Ill., and New York City, with satellite office space in Washington, D.C. Big Ten events are held throughout the country, with football championship games in Indianapolis and basketball tournaments in Chicago, Indianapolis, New York City and Washington, D.C. The baseball tournament returns to Omaha, Neb., while the hockey tournaments are held in Saint Paul, Minn., and Detroit, Mich. In addition, the Big Ten features the largest postseason football lineup in conference history, with 16 potential bowl destinations spread across the nation.
Under Delany’s guidance, the Big Ten will administer over $200 million in direct financial support to more than 9,600 students on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The conference recently added men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse as official conference sports and admitted Johns Hopkins and Notre Dame as sport affiliate members in men’s and women’s lacrosse, and men’s ice hockey, respectively. The Big Ten formed a research collaboration with the Ivy League to study the effects of head injuries in 2012 and developed the first collegiate version of football instant replay beginning in 2004. The Big Ten was the first conference to voluntarily adopt participation goals for female students competing in intercollegiate athletics in 1992 and launched BTN in 2007, the first national conference-owned television network.
Delany, a native of South Orange, N.J., received his undergraduate degree in political science in 1970 and juris doctorate degree in 1973 from the University of North Carolina. Delany was a member of the UNC basketball team, serving as tri-captain and twice participating in the Final Four. He is a member of numerous boards and committees, including BTN, Collegiate Commissioners Association and National Football Foundation. Delany has also been inducted into the St. Benedict’s Preparatory, Ohio Valley Conference, Newark, N.J. and Chicagoland Halls of Fame. In 2014, Delany and the Big Ten were presented the Torch of Liberty Award by the Anti-Defamation League and in 2016, he was honored with the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Most recently in May 2018, Delany was named to SportsBusiness Journal’s Twenty for 20, a list of the 20 most influential sports executives over the past 20 years.
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