So much for those Friday night lights.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told the Chicago Tribune on Thursday the conference is not seeking to play more Friday night games, with the exception of the day after Thanksgiving. Friday night games on Labor Day weekend, before some schools are in session, will continue.
In addressing TV negotiations that are slated to begin in 2015, Delany said the conference is emphasizing increasing Saturday night games in November.
"We're looking hard at more prime time," he said. "We're looking at many, many issues - 100 issues.
"We're trying to enhance the (TV) package, but the notion that we're playing Friday nights - I don't think it will happen while I'm here. There are much higher priorities."
Delany, whose contract runs through June 2018, said he took exception to a headline on Madison.com - "OK with Badgers football on Friday night?" - because it "gave the impression that we're going to do it."
"You never say never," he said. "We might be playing on Netflix or YouTube (someday). You can't know what is going to happen down the road."
Delany said the three biggest obstacles to Friday night games are interference with high school games, the potential of missed class time for players and whether campuses can handle a weekday crowd.
Pointing to Delany's contention that the Friday night discussion was "premature," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said Thursday he's not aware of any such debate.
"I don't know all the facts, so I don't want to venture an opinion," Fitzgerald said. "Nothing has been outlined to us as a coaching body."
Delany served as guest speaker Thursday at a City Club of Chicago luncheon. No surprise, given the proximity to Northwestern, the hot topic was unionization.
Former NU quarterback Kain Colter is leading a charge to allow the team to collectively bargain; the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board is expected to weigh in by April.
Before taking questions, Delany said: "The great thing about America is that people can have different opinions. And we don't shoot each other, we go to court. Whether they are students or employees and whether they should be paid ... we have a way to resolve that."
Delany, who played basketball for Dean Smith at North Carolina, has pushed for cost-of-attendance stipends for student-athletes. He said Thursday that leaders in college athletics need to "bring more into balance" the number of hours players put into their sports.
During testimony at the NLRB hearing, Colter estimated it at 50 to 60 hours some weeks.
"When the NCAA reinvents itself and restructures itself," Delany said, "I hope we can do better for the athlete in every way, shape and form."
Delany also said he favors no restrictions on when athletes can turn professional, regardless of the sport.
"There should be choice," he said. "I don't want any (age minimums) that are artificial."
Asked how he envisioned expanding the Big Ten past 14 schools, he replied: "I can't. We don't have any plans. We are not active."
With Rutgers and Maryland about to join, adding 20 to 25 percent to the "demographic footprint," Delany said, "we will need extra elbow grease to make everyone feel a part of it. We need to work harder to make them feel welcome."