The recent talk about the potential retirement of SEC commissioner Mike Slive in 2014 got me thinking about Slive's chief rival, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, and his future with the league.
Delany, 65, is eight years younger than Slive, who turns 73 in July, but he has been a major-conference commissioner much longer, taking over at the Big Ten in 1989. The Big Ten in 2008 announced that Delany's contract had been extended through June 30, 2013.
Since then, there have been no announcements from the league. Is Delany's tenure nearing its end? Not any time soon.
The Big Ten confirmed to ESPN.com this week that Delany received a contract extension in 2011 that takes him through June 30, 2018. The league's Council of Presidents/Chancellors approved the extension, but the conference never made a public announcement.
Delany's extension means he'll guide the league through its next television contract negotiation. The league's current media agreements expire following the 2016-17 athletics season. The Big Ten's recent expansion additions of Maryland and Rutgers were done very much with the TV negotiations in mind.
Don't be surprised if the new TV deal is Delany's final major project as commissioner, although he shows no signs of slowing down. Delany ranks second in commissioner salary behind the Pac-12's Larry Scott. Sports Illustrated recently named Delany the 26th most powerful person in sports, nine spots below Slive.
Delany is only the fifth commissioner in Big Ten history and recently became the league's longest-serving leader, surpassing Major John L. Griffith, the first Big Ten commissioner who served from 1922 until his death in 1944.
Although Delany is a somewhat controversial figure among Big Ten fans, he has elevated the league's profile throughout his tenure and helped schools receive record revenue. The league's presidents and chancellors want him to remain in his role as long as he wants.