In an article written by The Chronicle of Higher Education, a plan circulated amongst Big Ten presidents includes the possibility of giving commissioner Jim Delany the power to fire rogue coaches (subscription required).
This line of thinking comes in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky/Penn State situation, one that was made worse by those in power placing football ahead of the safety of the abused youth.
“It is a working document intended to generate ideas, not draw conclusions,” according to an email sent from Big Ten headquarters to people in the league. “One provision in the document addresses ’emergency authority of the commissioner’ – it is just one of many ideas.”
Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com asked a few Big Ten basketball coaches (both head and assistant) at the EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam, and as one would expect they’re not in favor of the possibility.
“What?” asked one Big Ten coach when I asked if he’d heard the proposal. He subsequently told me he had not. So I explained it. Then he responded.
“Are you f-cking kidding me?” he said.
And that was basically the consensus response…
“Penn State had an awful scandal because it had one man [Joe Paterno] who had too much power. Is that right?” one coach asked. “So the way to fix that is to give another man [Delany] too much power? Does that make any sense? It takes some kind of arrogance to even suggest that.”
Hard to disagree with those statements on the possibility of this rule being put into effect. The handling of coaches should be handled by that institution’s athletic director.
And if the AD is found to be embroiled in the situation as well then his/her higher up(s) would be the one to handle the punishment, not the commissioner of the conference.
Plus, is it guaranteed that the commissioner would have all of the facts needed to make a decision?
In response to Thursday’s uproar the Big Ten issued a statement to ESPN.com on Friday, stating that Delany will not be given such authority.
There have been several reports, stemming from an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, that reference certain emergency powers described in a draft document entitled Standards and Procedures For Safeguarding Institutional Control of Intercollegiate Athletics that has been under review by the Big Ten’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors. The draft obtained by the Chronicle was an early draft put together by the Big Ten staff in order to surface all of the options available. The option of giving emergency powers to the Commissioner to fire personnel is not under consideration by the Presidents and Chancellors.
There it is. A disaster’s been averted.
If school administrations being unable to police their athletic programs ever became the norm, whether or not a commissioner should have this kind of authority would be the least of our concerns.