CHICAGO -- You are what someone will pay you.
That was basically the reaction by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany on Monday when asked about his reported $20 million bonus.
In May, USA Today reported Delany would receive that amount in "future bonus payments" after the paper examined the conference's tax return.
Delany was asked at Big Ten Media Days what the optics are of one of the most powerful men in college sports being against compensation for players while cashing an eight-figure bonus.
"The optics are what the writers make of them," Delany said. "For me, we have an obligation -- legal -- to share a 990 [tax return], which we have [with USA Today] …
"For me, I'm active, interested. [College athletics] has been important to me for more than 50 years. I continue to believe in it. I think the apt comparison is probably not with the student. I don't think it ever has been. I understand people will make that connection. I just don't make it."
The bonus would be far and away the largest amount ever reported for a conference commissioner. There were no details on when or how often those payments will be made.
The Washington Post reported in 2016 that Delany is the second-highest paid commissioner at $3.1 million per year.
During his comments, Delany referenced several lawsuits against the NCAA that seek to lift caps on compensation to players beyond cost of attendance.
Delany began with the Big Ten in 1989. Under his watch, conference revenue has skyrocketed. On Monday, he formally announced the beginning of a six-year media rights deal with Fox and ESPN worth $2.64 billion.
The Big Ten Network, which turns 10 this year, is the oldest and most successful college network of its kind. Delany called BTN "an artistic and financial success."