The man has to twist himself into knots dissecting the differences between the programs he oversees that are now on NCAA probation. It’s almost painful.
“I don’t really care if it’s a precedent. I don’t really care about whether or not they [NCAA] had jurisdiction or whether or not there was an underlying NCAA violation. There’s been a lot of debate by pundits one way or the other.
“The only thing that matters to me is I think the NCAA did have moral authority to act, and I think the Big Ten had moral authority to act …
“I think because the Freeh report has been accepted by the institution, it allowed for the NCAA to take its next steps it felt were appropriate. You can debate them all you want, but in my view they had moral authority and responsibility to act as did the Big Ten …
“This case is unique in the sense that I think it involved people with senior executive and management responsibilities … I think the other issue is that Penn State adopted — not only adopted, but authorized the Freeh report and then adopted it. So that in addition to the moral authority, they had a legal set of findings which the university accepted and embraced and commissioned.
“If this is precedential and — I don’t believe that it is — but if you ever had senior executives and a set of findings that the NCAA could rely on that related to a criminal charge, I think perhaps you would — an institution would have something to worry about, because of the elements or the facts would have some commonality. But absent those kinds of things, where you don’t have a factual set of findings and you don’t have senior involvement in those findings, I think it’s a stretch.”
In a league that prides itself on academic excellence, Delany had to admit that a third of his league is currently on probation — Penn State, Nebraska (books), Michigan (20-hour work week) and Ohio State (Tattoogate).
“The Penn State situation certainly needs to be separated from the discussion of Nebraska’s book-buying policies. I think it’s intellectually and morally difficult to even discuss those things in the same sentence.
“In the case of Ohio State, you had a coach who lost his job for not being honest about answering questions about tattoos. I think that also has to be separated and it’s morally and intellectually a stretch to discuss that in the same sentence.
“Having said that, there are all three NCAA cases. And so when you look at NCAA cases, we — and me in particular — have never claimed that we don’t have teams on probation or that we don’t have teams that make mistakes.”
Clear as mud, that. Maybe the problem is that college football’s moral authority is the new jumbo shrimp. But it’s good to know in advance what card Delany or Emmert might play the next time either claims his delicate fee-fees are hurt.
And let’s hear it for Illinois’ new head coach, who is obviously not troubled in the least by where any of this hair-splitting leads.
Illinois coach Tim Beckman acknowledged he is “just following the rules of the NCAA” and has nothing to apologize for, refuting reports Wednesday that members of his staff were on campus. Beckman said Illinois provided Penn State with a list of the names of players it was interested in pursuing.
“We were in State College, but we did not go on campus,” he said. “We went to two establishments outside campus and called some individuals and if they wanted to come by, it was their opportunity to come by.”
Hooker with a heart of gold, that one is. But Beckman did manage to pull off something that’s hard to do – give Urban Meyer the chance to grab some higher moral ground.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he “has a problem” with coaches being able to solicit players from Penn State.
Told of Meyer’s comments, O’Brien said, “That’s why he’s got two national championships. That’s why he is the coach he is.”
Ladies and gentlemen, your Big Ten Conference. They didn’t name those divisions Legends and Leaders for nothing.