PARK RIDGE, Ill. — The Big Ten Conference has no plans to give its commissioner the power to fire coaches.
In a statement released Friday, the conference said “giving emergency powers to the commissioner to fire personnel is not under consideration” by its 12 presidents and chancellors.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reported this week that the conference was considering giving commissioner Jim Delany power to punish schools with financial sanctions, suspensions and even the ability to fire coaches in the wake of the Penn State scandal. The Chronicle posted an 18-page plan – titled “Standards and Procedures for Safeguarding Institutional Control of Intercollegiate Athletics” – suggesting that in certain circumstances the commissioner would have unilateral authority to “take any and all actions” in the best interest of the Big Ten.
The conference said that was “an early draft put together by the Big Ten staff in order to surface all of the options available.”
After the report surfaced, Michigan’s athletic director, Dave Brandon, said the emergency power proposal had come out of “left field,” and the president at the University of Minnesota, Eric Kaler, said he doubted that individual schools would be willing to give up control over personnel.
Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was recently convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys, sometimes on campus. A report commissioned by Penn State said school leaders, including coach Joe Paterno, ignored allegations more than a decade ago, allowing Sandusky to prey on other boys for years. Paterno’s family said he never participated in an attempt to cover up wrongdoing.
The NCAA and U.S. Education Department are investigating Penn State for potential rules and policy violations; the issue of “institutional control” is believed to be a key part of the NCAA inquiry, since problems there can lead to athletic penalties.