Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany acknowledged Jim Tressel made "a fundamental error" when the ex-Ohio State coach failed to pass along information about potential rules violations by Buckeyes players to other athletic department officials.
Delany, speaking Sunday after the Big Ten's presidents and chancellors' meeting, said that the Big Ten has long emphasized to its member schools that any information about possible rule violations should be communicated to others in the athletic department. Tressel received information about possible violations in April 2010 but only shared it with the advisor of quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Tressel resigned Monday following several months of intense scrutiny.
"Coach Tressel would acknowledge and he did acknowledge that how he handled it was not the right way to handle it," Delany said, "You force it up the chain of command so that people with the responsibility to manage this stuff handle it properly worth the NCAA. The chain broke when the coach became aware of the information and didn't forward it. ...
"When that kind of information becomes available, you have no choice."
Delany said Ohio State's eligibility for the inaugural Big Ten football championship game in December would depend on any penalties the program receives from the NCAA. Ohio State will appear before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions on Aug. 12, and a ruling likely would come about six weeks later.
"The next step is going to play out over the next few months between the institution and the NCAA," Delany said. "I can't tell you how much confidence I have in Ohio State and the NCAA. I doubt very much whether they'll have any tremendous conflict. They've worked together to find the facts. ... There's a whole broad range of things that could happen, but I can't predict what that will be."
When the player violations came to light in December, Delany supported the NCAA's decision to allow Pryor and others to participate in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. Delany was "surprised" and "disappointed" to learn in January that Tressel had prior knowledge of the violations and did not come forward.
The commissioner continued to support Ohio State in its handling of the challenging situation.
"It's been hard on the coach, it's been hard on the players, it's been hard on the fans," Delany said. "The test is how resilient are you, how do you manage this kind of challenge. ... I have tremendous confidence in that program to be resilient."
Adam Rittenberg covers Big Ten football for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.