It’s little secret that a good chunk of next week’s Big Ten Media Days would be spent asking league officials, coaches and even players about the ongoing Sandusky scandal at Penn State, a cover-up that appears more labyrinthine by the week. But just how much material reporters would have to chew on was uncertain.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported Thursday that Big Ten boss Jim Delany has crafted an 18-page plan that seeks to address the level of moral mismanagement at Penn State, and coach/administrator/booster chicanery of the less damaging variety. Per the Chronicle, the plan includes giving Delany and the Big Ten Presidents to fire an individual – yes, a coach – who greatly harms the reputation of the league.
It goes deeper. Just as our columnist Lee Barfknecht suggested in a July 3 column, the Big Ten could theoretically discuss suspending or expelling Penn State entirely from the league. An except from the Chronicle story:
The Big Ten’s 12-member Council of Presidents and Chancellors must approve any decision to suspend, expel, or place on probation any member of the conference. According to the conference handbook, expulsion requires a vote of not less than 60 percent of the full council (a Big Ten spokesman said that figure is actually 70 percent, or eight members, which will be reflected in the 2012-13 handbook).
The Big Ten does not have a contingency scheduling plan should Penn State’s football team be banned from playing this or any season, a senior league official told The Chronicle. But fallout from the scandal has many Big Ten leaders on edge.
“This whole situation is unprecedented,” said Sally Mason, president of the University of Iowa and chair of the Council of Presidents and Chancellors. “It’s sports-related, but there were very significant moral, legal, and institutional failures.”
She and her colleagues plan to discuss those problems in coming weeks, but she has no early sign of what they may decide. “Until all of our presidents and chancellors sit down and talk in depth,” she said, “I have no idea of what the outcome is likely to be, and I wouldn’t want to predict.”
The Big Ten’s public response to the Sandusky Scandal this summer — and arguably in November, when it all went down — has been reactive, at best. The league will have its chance to go on the offensive next week.
Behind closed doors, it would appear Delany already has. Remember that, at last year’s Big Ten Media Days, a show was made of Delany having a frank conversation with league coaches about integrity. That was in the wake of the tattoo scandal at Ohio State that led to Jim Tressel’s resignation. As Delany gave that speech, Penn State already knew Sandusky was being investigated by a grand jury, and at least four key school figures — coach Joe Paterno included — had been sitting on an 11-year eyewitness allegation of Sandusky abusing a boy in the shower room of the football offices.
You, of course, know all that. Be consider it in the context of sitting in that room, hearing Delany give a stern warning about scandals, while one of the biggest pots of impropriety in the history of American higher education is about to boil over.
Should be an interesting conversation Delany has with coaches this year. And an interesting one he has with the media, which will come armed with tough questions.
Is Delany’s proposal a winner? Have at it.