College Basketball Nation: Joe Paterno

This is probably the least surprising reaction of all time, but I thought it was funny, so here goes.

On Thursday, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on the circulation of an 18-page memorandum titled "Standards and Procedures for Safeguarding Institutional Control of Intercollegiate Athletics." This is a post-Penn State scandal document designed to consider, according to the Chronicle, policies that would give the league "the ability to penalize individual members of an institution, should their actions significantly harm the league’s reputation." Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and the league's 12-member Council of Presidents and Chancellors would have "to punish schools with financial sanctions, suspensions and even the ability to fire coaches." In other words, Delany would technically have the power to fire college basketball coaches.

As you might expect, the league's basketball coaches very much dislike this idea. CBS' Gary Parrish, on hand at the Peach Jam AAU tournament, granted anonymity to five Big Ten head and assistant coaches, and those coaches were effusive in their distaste:
"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.

"The head coaches should fire the assistant coaches, the athletic directors should fire the head coaches, the presidents should fire the athletic directors, and the boards should fire the presidents. It's like Bill Belichick's saying -- 'Do your job.' That's the way it should be. We don't need a commissioner trying to do somebody else's job -- especially when a commissioner firing one school's great coach could help make things easier for that school's rival. The whole thing is stupid. ..."

That is probably the least surprising reaction to any bit of Big Ten-related news you'll hear all year. Of course coaches hate this idea. They're also overreacting. As ESPN.com Big Ten football writer Brian Bennett wrote Thursday:
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.

The chances this rule would be used to fire a coach without some major, already-obvious-to-everyone reason is very difficult to fathom. The proposal is, again, a post-Penn State scandal idea, a pre-emptive insurance policy against institutions that go so far out of their way to, say, protect monsters, that the entire spectrum of conference rules and regulations isn't fit to do the job. Doomsday scenarios -- in which Delany becomes an all-powerful Big Ten potentate, prone to firing coaches like fantasy football players while palace servants fan him with palm fronds -- are absolutely as ridiculous as I just made them sound.

As the Associated Press reported Thursday:
Minnesota president Eric Kaler said he doubts that individual schools would be willing to give up control to the conference on such an issue of firing a coach. [...]

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said the scandal has school presidents and ADs looking at ways to improve oversight and control.

"A lot of things have been discussed, but I have not been party to any conversation that would suggest the commissioner would have unilateral power to fire coaches," Brandon told the AP. "That's kind of out of left field, and I don't think the commissioner would want that kind of power. But what sounds reasonable to me is to create a mechanism in which the commissioner along with a committee of presidents and athletic directors had more oversight and control."
1. Former Penn State men’s basketball coach, Nittany Lions’ alumnus and current Navy coach Ed DeChellis echoed many when he called the charges of sexual abuse by former football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky “disgusting.’’ DeChellis said Wednesday night after president Graham Spanier and legendary football coach Joe Paterno were fired by the board of trustees, “I don’t think the board had a choice. They needed to start the healing process. I feel for Joe.’’ DeChellis chose to leave Penn State after last season for the Naval Academy. DeChellis said that Navy had a chance of playing in the Carrier Classic in an undercard game Friday but the previous coach turned down the offer. DeChellis said he would love to get into the game in the future (and playing Air Force would make sense). But organizers did want to make sure one game worked, let alone doing a doubleheader.

2. Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said in a text message late Wednesday night that he’s getting better in his ongoing fight with Parkinson’s disease. Kennedy wasn’t on the court for the Aggies’ win over Liberty on Wednesday night, but he was around, and did visit with the players in the locker room. Kennedy said in a text message that he did watch the game, but he’s not sure yet if he’ll be strong enough to coach the Aggies next week in the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Kennedy has been on a medical leave since practice started last month. Steve Lavin, who was coming off prostate cancer surgery, returned to St. John’s Wednesday night. The Red Storm and Aggies are in the 2K tournament next week with Arizona and Mississippi State.

3. Central Florida coach Donnie Jones had the Knights ranked a year ago after upsetting Florida in his first season. But by the time the Knights got to Conference USA, the slide started. And it hasn’t stopped. The Knights are on the verge of possibly joining the Big East, but they better get their house in order first. Jones was suspended for three C-USA games and athletic director Keith Tribble resigned amid recruiting violations announced in football and men’s basketball. This comes on the heels of UCF suspending five players for an exhibition game. Jones left Marshall for UCF because of the hidden gem label given to the Orlando school. But UCF can’t make significant strides if it is embroiled with the NCAA or dealing with any other off-court issues. There has consistently been a failed attempt at consistency.

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