In light of recent B1G scandals, it seems Jim Delany may be seeking greater disciplinary powers as Commissioner.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education,
The proposal, part of a plan being circulated among Big Ten leaders, would give James E. Delany, who has overseen the league since 1989, and a powerful committee of conference presidents the ability to penalize individual members of an institution, should their actions significantly harm the league’s reputation.
The sanctions, spelled out in a document obtained by The Chronicle, could include financial penalties, suspension, or termination of employment.
The proposal, which has not been approved, is part of an 18-page plan prompted by problems at Penn State, where a former assistant football coach repeatedly molested children on campus property while university leaders turned a blind eye.
The ideas are designed in part to root out problems that could include coaches or athletic officials who interfere with normal admissions, compliance hiring, or disciplinary processes, the document says.
According to this proposal, Commissioner Delany, as well as a committee of counsel presidents, are seeking the power to fine, suspend and fire individual members of B1G coaching staffs. Recent scandals have besmirched the qualities of legendary leadership the B1G professes to honor. This would increase the B1G Conference’s punitive capabilities.
Had the power to terminate been in place would it have altered Tressel-gate or the Sandusky atrocity? It seems unlikely as neither likely believed they would be caught. The threat to kick a coach to the curb will only be as effective as the entity using it.
Should Delany be entrusted with the power to terminate a head coach? What if the next B1G Commissioner is a schlemiel (Dan Beebe)? Is the power to discharge a head coach too much for one man? Would it even be legal for a Commissioner to fire a state employee (as are the coaches at a majority of B1G universities)?
Should a committee of school representatives be allocated the power to fire one of their own? This would carry the same danger of over-reaching powers. How many school’s votes would be needed to extinguish a coaching career? Would a successful coach be canned by a majority of lesser schools? What safeguards would be in place to discourage abuse?
Perhaps the ability of an oversight authority to levy fines and suspensions on coaches could curb illicit behavior. What behavior would this tool be used to dissuade? Abusing referees? Feigning phantom injuries? Berating players? Unsportsmanlike post-game activities? Is this kind of authority needed in the B1G? Would it improve the B1G? Should coaches and universities be disciplined by the B1G for their alleged or very real damage to the B1G brand?
Adam Jacobi of Bleacher Report suggests implementing these changes in the name of Sandusky’s victims may be a cynical coup d’etat. “But let’s be honest about what’s going on here. This is a massive power grab and one that isn’t necessary. If these reforms had been in place 10 years ago, the Penn State scandal still would have happened. The Big Ten couldn’t have prevented it, no matter how high a throne Jim Delany sat on.
So if these reforms are a proximate result of the Penn State scandal but they don’t give the Big Ten the power to prevent another such scandal, then the Big Ten members who are going to vote on this proposal need to give a lot of thought to what kind of change they’re actually effecting here.”
EDIT: Friday morning the B1G released the following statement to ESPN.
“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.”