As part of the fallout from the Penn State scandal, the Big Ten could soon give commissioner Jim Delany and the presidential leadership council the power to fire coaches who abuse their power.
That's according to a report this morning in the Chronicle of Higher Education, which says the league is working on an 18-page plan to prevent problems like the Penn State mess in the future. One of the proposals would give Delany and the league's 12-member Council of Presidents and Chancellors "the ability to penalize individual members of an institution, should their actions significantly harm the league’s reputation," the Chronicle wrote. Sanctions could include "financial penalties, suspension, or termination of employment."
The Chronicle also reports that the Big Ten is still trying to figure out what to do with Penn State, with one league president telling the publication that removing the school from the conference could be considered. The Big Ten has said it could levy its own sanctions against Penn State in the wake of the Sandusky scandal.
“This whole situation is unprecedented,” Iowa president Sally Mason told the Chronicle. "It’s sports-related, but there were very significant moral, legal, and institutional failures.”
The presidents and chancellors haven't discussed in depth what to do about Penn State. I still think it's a long shot that the school gets removed from the conference, since that would cause scheduling chaos, not to mention the fact that the Nittany Lions are still a valuable commodity to the league. But there clearly appears to be some sentiment to do something to punish the school.
Meanwhile, you can already imagine the controversy that might arise if the Big Ten commissioner and presidents decided to fire a coach. But as the Chronicle reports, such a move would involve coaches who "interfere with normal admissions, compliance, hiring, or disciplinary processes." It would likely have to be an extreme case of malfeasance for the league to take such an extraordinary action before the school itself took action.
But it sure would have been interesting if the league had that power, say, when Jim Tressel was still employed by Ohio State last spring, or if Joe Paterno were still the coach at Penn State.
Stay tuned to this story. Expect Delany to get asked a lot of questions about Penn State next week at the Big Ten media days.