Dr. Saturday

Jim Delany wants the right to fire coaches whose actions embarrass the Big Ten

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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Jim Delany (AP)

The Big Ten's solution to a scandal caused by a corruption of power is to give one guy all the power.

[Dan Wetzel: NCAA should allow PSU players to transfer without restrictions]

In light of the events at Penn State, the Big Ten is considering a proposal that would give commissioner Jim Delany the power to fire coaches.

Yes, commissioner Delany would like to be known as dictator Delany.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the 18-page proposal would allow Delany, in conjunction with a committee of league presidents, to penalize members of an institution — coaches, presidents, athletic directors, etc. — if their actions damage the league's reputation.

Looking at you Penn State.

Since the Freeh Report revealed last Thursday Penn State's role in a cover-up of the sexual misdeeds of former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, the NCAA and the Department of Education have been debating whether to levy punishments on the university that would cripple it from an athletic and educational standpoint. Apparently, the Big Ten wants to be able to get its licks in as well.

[Pat Forde: It's time for colleges to take control of their athletic programs]

According to The Chronicle, the Big Ten is even considering removing Penn State from its conference. Eight of the Big Ten's 12-member council of presidents and chancellors would have to approve any proposal that would oust Penn State.

The Big Ten Conference Handbook, which governs the league's operations, does not contain language addressing a situation as egregious as what happened at Penn State.

But the conference's bylaws prescribe potentially severe penalties for member institutions that break lesser rules. Any Big Ten university that employs or retains workers who intentionally falsify or deliberately fail to provide complete and accurate information during an investigation may be required to "show cause why its membership in the conference should not be suspended or terminated," the Big Ten's 2011-12 handbook says.

Penn State's unprecedented scandal has, in turn, created an unprecedented and bold move by the Big Ten. But how often does a coach that commits an egregious offense keep his job? It might take a couple months before a school acts, but in the end the offending coach is often unseated no matter how much clout they have (see Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno). Administrators are a different animal. Many called for Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith to lose his job in the wake of the Buckeyes memorabilia for cash and tattoos scandal and he's still in place. Would Delany have ousted him if given the opportunity?

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Delany is already considered one of the most powerful figures in college sports if not sports as a whole. Since taking over in 1989, he's constantly been out front in everything from expansion to the BCS to the new playoff system (though he blocked an initial playoff proposal). When Delany speaks, the college football nation listens. That aside, giving one man all the power is a slippery slope. Even though it doesn't appear as though Delany can act autonomously, what he says usually goes.

If the Penn State situation taught us anything, it's that placing too much power in the hands of one person has dangerous consequences. The Big Ten is seeing these consequences firsthand. Does it really want to walk the rocky path?

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