OAKLAND, Calif. — The head of the Big Ten painted a dire picture last week of what college sports would look like if players were paid. He said his conference likely would cease to exist and the Rose Bowl probably would not be played.
Jim Delany said the idea of paying players goes against the entire college experience and he couldn’t see league members agreeing to it. If some did, he said, they likely would be kicked out of the conference because the move would create an imbalance among schools that could not be resolved.
The longtime commissioner said it also would bring about the end of the Rose Bowl as a traditional New Year’s Day game between Big Ten and Pac-12 teams.
“There wouldn’t be a Rose Bowl if either they or we were operating in a very different wavelength in terms of paying players,” Delany said.
Delany followed NCAA President Mark Emmert to the witness stand in a landmark antitrust suit brought by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon and others. They dispute the NCAA’s contention that college sports would be thrown into turmoil if players win the right to be paid for the use of their names, images and likenesses in television broadcasts and videogames.
Like Emmert, he said college sports would be irreparably damaged in many ways if a century-old tradition is breached by payments.
“These games are owned by the institution and the notion of paying athletes for participation in these games is foreign to the notion of amateurism,” Delany said.
Delany acknowledged that the Big Ten gets hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from its sports, with each school receiving a $25 million share of the proceeds. But he said most of that money goes into programs and academics, even at a time when coaches are earning millions of dollars a year.