NCF Nation: Sally Mason

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and Iowa president Sally Mason -- chairwoman of the league's council of chancellors and presidents -- spoke to reporters for about 30 minutes on Monday about the Penn State sanctions.

In case you missed it, the Big Ten issued its own set of sanctions against Penn State that basically mirrored the NCAA's ruling. The league's one significant action was removing the Nittany Lions' share of postseason revenue during the team's four-year bowl ban, a penalty that will add up to about $13 million in lost revenue. Here are some notes and tidbits from the call:
  • Did the conference ever seriously consider kicking Penn State out of the league? Mason said that "everything was on the table" when the chancellors and presidents discussed penalties. But she said there was no serious movement toward expelling the Nittany Lions as a member. Though Mason expressed her deep disappointment with Penn State's actions, she also said that "the Big Ten stands behind Penn State as one of our fellow members as they try to move forward."
  • There was speculation the Big Ten might try to hit Penn State where it hurts the most: TV revenue and opportunities. The league could have taken away some Big Ten Network shares or kept the Nittany Lions off television in its nonconference games. The Big Ten Network reportedly paid each school about $7.2 million last fiscal year. But ultimately, Delany said, the league felt the school was being punished enough by the NCAA sanctions (which included a $60 million fine) and the $13 million loss of bowl proceeds. "We thought, all things taken together, that what had been done was sufficient," Delany said, "and that TV and the playing of actual games, along with other privileges of membership, should not be affected."
  • Mason noted the Big Ten had "legal counsel embedded with the Freeh group" that issued the report on Penn State two weeks ago, and that the league fully accepted the findings of the Freeh report as fact.
  • Despite the potential diminishing of one of the Big Ten's signature football brands, Delany said the Penn State situation would not prompt the league to look toward more expansion. In fact, he expressed confidence that the Nittany Lions would bounce back quickly as "many of the ingredients for success are still in place at Penn State," he said.
  • Remember this wasn't the Big Ten punishing some strangers. Former Penn State president Graham Spanier was an influential member of the presidents' council. Delany considered himself a good friend of ex-Penn State athletic director Tim Curley, and his admiration for Joe Paterno was well known. "Anger is probably not the right word," Delany said. "Sadness, pain, hurt. But I have to also put that into the context of the tremendous damage and harm that was done to young people as a result of the omissions and the acts of the people that were involved, and also the tremendous harm done to Penn State and ultimately to other members of the Big Ten."
  • In an understatement, Mason said "this is not a proud moment for the Big Ten." A league that prides itself on its ideals and virtues and went so far as to name its divisions "Legends" and "Leaders" is understandably being lambasted for having such a scandal in its midst. Delany said the league has "been damaged, but not mortally damaged. ... I think that we're resilient as people, as leaders. Our institutions have been operating for 150-plus years. We're part of the culture, we contribute to society. I'm hopeful we can learn lessons from this and become better as a result of it. I would say it's as damaging as any set of actions or activities I've been involved with in my 33 years as a commissioner. I accept that as fact. But I also believe there is opportunity for hope, for redemption and for improvement."
Players' ability to transfer within the Big Ten became a big issue with the case of former Wisconsin basketball player Jarrod Uthoff this spring.

The league recently adopted a rule that says any player who transfers from one Big Ten team to another would not only have to sit out a year under NCAA restrictions, but that he or she would also lose a season of eligibility.

But the conference is strongly leaning toward lifting all restrictions for Penn State players who want to leave in the wake of today's NCAA sanctions announcement. As we blogged earlier today, the NCAA is allowing all current Penn State players and incoming freshmen to basically transfer for free, even possibly allowing their destination schools to go over scholarship limits to take them in. But that still does not address the Big Ten rule.

The league has not officially waived the rule for Penn State players, but commissioner Jim Delany said the presidents and chancellors discussed that issue on Sunday and are leaning heavily toward doing so.

"Their first thought on it is that they're students first and athletes second," Delany said. "The conference has some limitations in terms of internal transfers, but the students in this situation ... their interests need to be prioritized. We'll take a very close look at the NCAA declaration about freedom to transfer, and I think our first inclination is to allow those students to have the most freedom and flexibility if they choose to transfer. At first blush, our orientation would be to support as much freedom as possible for those students."

Sally Mason, who chairs the league's council of presidents and chancellors, added that, "the presidents felt that this was an exceptional situation that required some exceptional thinking in terms of how we would deal with this particular aspect of transfer and eligibility."

It's the right thing to do, of course. And it will only make things potentially wilder as Penn State players mull their options. Silas Redd starting at running back for Ohio State this season? Gerald Hodges playing linebacker at Nebraska? Jordan Hill on Wisconsin's defensive line? All probably far-fetched, but all could be entirely possible.

INDIANAPOLIS -- The NCAA has had its say on Penn State. Now it's the Big Ten's turn.

The Big Ten will announce its own punishment for Penn State for massive failings during the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal at the school. University of Iowa president Sally Mason, the chair of the Big Ten's Council of Presidents/Chancellors, will discuss the penalties along with league commissioner Jim Delany at 11 a.m. ET. Big Ten presidents and chancellors announced their own investigation into the problems at Penn State back in December.

What will the Big Ten do? The NCAA already has hammered Penn State with heavy scholarship losses, fines and a four-year postseason ban. ESPN.com has learned the Big Ten doesn't want to be redundant with its penalties. Unlike the NCAA, which collaborated with Penn State in advance of Monday's announcement, the Big Ten will act on its own.

The big question is whether the Big Ten will expel Penn State. My conversations with league sources indicate this will not happen, although the presidents considered the option. Big Ten bylaws state 70 percent of the league's presidents -- in this case, nine of 12 -- must vote for Penn State's removal to trigger expulsion.

Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman recently told the Lincoln Journal Star that the league's presidents weren't considering removing Penn State.

"We are dealing with an unprecedented situation," Mason told the Des Moines Register last week. "It clearly is a sports-related incident, but it's also indicative of systemic institutional failures -- a moral failure as well a legal failure -- and we as a conference want to do everything we can to both send a very strong message to our conference member, and at the same time also help Penn State find ways to really get back to emphasizing the great educational institution that it is."

The Big Ten could place Penn State on some type of probation. Unlike the NCAA, which is an umbrella organization, the Big Ten looks at itself as a club or a family. One of the family members has made egregious mistakes, and retribution is in order.

Revenue is one area where the Big Ten can punish Penn State. The league could reduce Penn State's revenue share for a determined period. The Big Ten announced last month it would distribute a record $284 million to its members at the end of the fiscal year. Penn State has been receiving a full share of revenue, which translates to $24.6 million for this fiscal year.

The television component also will be interesting. The Big Ten Network televises all football games not appearing on ESPN or ABC. Would Penn State's BTN appearances drop because of these penalties? Anything is on the table.

Stay tuned as we'll have full coverage of the Big Ten's penalties for Penn State football.


Iowa's internal investigation into the hospitalization of 13 football players with rhabdomyolysis is complete.

University president Sally Mason will discuss the findings Wednesday during a Board of Regents meeting. Mason's announcement will come on the same day Iowa begins its spring football practice.

Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz will address the media at 1:30 p.m. ET Wednesday (12:30 local time).

The school announced the investigation in January following the hospitalizations and said the probe could take up to 90 days. Iowa assistant Eric Johnson said last month that the hospitalized players are expected to be ready for spring practice. The players include defensive backs Shaun Prater and Jordan Bernstine and linebackers Shane DiBona and Jim Poggi.

It should be an interesting day Wednesday in the Hawkeye State. Keep it right here for updates.
Iowa officials on Thursday announced that a 90-day investigation is under way to determine the cause for 13 football players being hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis.

The analysis began shortly after the players were hospitalized Monday and Tuesday, and university president Sally Mason met Thursday with Board of Regents president David Miles to determine the timeline. Results will be presented to the Board of Regents after the investigation concludes.

In a joint statement, Mason and Miles said the hospitalization of so many players is "a cause for grave concern."
"Going forward, it is essential that we take the necessary steps to understand the factors that led to this to ensure that it never happens again," Miles said in a prepared statement. "This morning President Sally Mason and I agreed to a 90-day timeline for completion of a root cause analysis of the events that led to the need to hospitalize these young men. At president Mason’s direction, this analysis was already underway shortly after the incident, and I appreciate the university’s efforts to involve independent medical experts in the process from the earliest moments."
"The primary aim of this analysis will be to identify, to the extent possible, the root causes of this incident in order to create and implement effective preventative measures to ensure this does not happen in the future,” Mason said in a prepared statement. "It is an essential responsibility of the university to determine what is likely to have caused this rare condition among so many young men at one time, and to share those findings."

It will be interesting to see the results of the investigation and whether any Iowa staff members face discipline for what happened.

Iowa seems to be taking this very seriously and it should. Intense workouts certainly aren't unique to Iowa, but the number of players hospitalized with a potentially serious condition merits close scrutiny.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg 

Big Ten media days begin Thursday with all 11 coaches appearing at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Joe Tiller will tell fish stories, Joe Paterno will snap off some good one-liners and Tim Brewster will show he has no need for a podium nor a microphone. I'll have a media day primer for you later today, but first here's a look around the league:

  • Iowa athletic director Gary Barta issued a statement welcoming a second investigation by the state Board of Regents into the university's handling of an alleged sexual assault involving two former football players and a female student-athlete. Barta said he looks forward to addressing the situation publicly, adding that "most people understand there is more to this story and I look forward to being able to tell it." He did say school officials, including football coach Kirk Ferentz, followed university policy in handling the matter.
  • University of Iowa president Sally Mason apologized for not releasing two letters from the mother of the alleged victim to the Board of Regents, but she has found no problems with the way school officials responded to the situation, Gregg Hennigan writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette.
  • Will Big Ten media days give Ferentz and his players the chance to focus on football? The Gazette's Marc Morehouse thinks so.
  • Ohio State fans still fuming about Carson Palmer's comments should put themselves in his shoes, The Columbus Dispatch's Ken Gordon writes in his blog.
  • The Detroit News' Eric Lacy checks in with new Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis, who sees eye-to-eye with football coach Mark Dantonio. Hollis also likens Dantonio's demeanor to that of Ohio State coach Jim Tressel.
  • Ohio State has had higher-rated recruiting classes than the 2005 crop, but few groups have become more productive, Chip Minnich writes in Bleacher Report.
  • Former Purdue player Kyle Williams had his prison sentence reduced from 31 years to 25 years after being found guilty of attempted rape, battery and criminal confinement in April 2007. A judge Wednesday dismissed one of the criminal confinement charges, citing double jeopardy.
  • The buzz for Ohio State-USC already has begun, but there's another marquee nonconference matchup involving a Big Ten team. The Illinois-Missouri game, once the opening act before the two schools' annual basketball clash, sold out Tuesday, soon after tickets went on sale. Illinois also sold out its home game against Ohio State within an hour, and the school is opening five extra rows of seats to accommodate fans for the Iowa and Indiana home games. Man, the Ron Turner era feels like a long time ago.
  • The Rashard Mendenhall-Ron Zook spat is hurting the Steelers running back more than the Illinois coach, Brent Parker writes in Bleacher Report. "Coach Zook is saying all the conclusive things, and Rashard Mendenhall is saying all the 'cryptic' things." Hard to argue with that.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The spotlight remains on Iowa City, where the state Board of Regents held a special meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss the University of Iowa's response to an alleged sexual assault involving two former Hawkeyes football players and a female student-athlete in October. The Regents unanimously voted to reopen their investigation in light of a letter sent by the mother of the alleged victim that was not received during the Board's initial investigation, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported.

University president Sally Mason apologized for not releasing the letter, expressing "profound and sincere regret." She added that the university would fully cooperate with the new investigation. Regents president David Miles called the school's failure to release the letter a "serious breach of trust." The school might have committed another no-no by not seeking permission from the alleged victim before releasing her mother's letter to the public on Monday. A spokesman said that by releasing the letter to the Press-Citizen last week, the alleged victim's family was comfortable with it going public. Meanwhile, former Hawkeyes star Tim Dwight is bothered by the program's recent rash of off-field problems, but he places blame on the players, not Kirk Ferentz or the coaching staff.

All in all, not a good situation for the Hawkeyes.

Elsewhere:

  • Former USC quarterback Carson Palmer backed off his anti-Ohio State comments, Ken Gordon writes in The Columbus Dispatch. He's just fired up about the game. Who isn't?
  • ESPN.com's Bruce Feldman lists his top 10 must-see games for 2008. Not surprsingly, Ohio State-USC is No. 1, while Wisconsin's trip to Fresno State comes in at No. 9. I'd include Ohio State at Wisconsin on the list, but I'm Big Ten-biased.
  • Missed this one Monday from The Indianapolis Star's Terry Hutchens, who writes that Indiana's days of being at the bottom of the league's recruiting rankings will end in 2009. Also, Hoosiers standout defensive end Greg Middleton has been named to the Ted Hendricks Award watch list.
  • Wisconsin added a wide receiver (Jeff Duckworth) for its 2009 recruiting class but might be losing a commitment from tackle Jon Lechner, Mark Stewart writes on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Badgers Blog.
  • Jack Bogaczyk of the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail thinks Rich Rodriguez will shake up the Big Ten.
  • Ohio State has become the second Big Ten school, along with Penn State, to establish a chapter of Uplifting Athletes. Earlier this month I wrote about Penn State's Lift For Life event, which raises funds and awareness to fight kidney cancer. Ohio State's chapter will hold its first event, a college football video game tournament, on July 27 at Eddie George's Grille 27 in Columbus. The event also will benefit the Kidney Cancer Association. Buckeyes quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels has been battling kidney cancer since 2006.
  • The Detroit News' Angelique S. Chengelis lists her five favorite college football uniforms. Both Penn State and Ohio State make the rundown. As a Michigan beat writer, she'll probably take flack for including the Buckeyes, but I like the pick.

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