Delany disappointed in NCAA violations, confident of future

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany used the gathering of all 12 football head coaches at last week’s media days as an opportunity to meet with the coaches as a group, with the No. 1 topic on the agenda being NCAA compliance.

“In my view, we have as a conference been hurt by two institutions that have been involved in NCAA allegations and findings, and I wanted to let them know that I expected them to lead their programs in a way that wouldn’t put us in that circumstance again,” Delany said.

The commissioner, a former enforcement representative for the NCAA, was referring to Michigan and Ohio State, two of the conference’s most notable members.

In 2010, the Michigan football program received three years probation after it was revealed it had exceeded the amount of training time allowed by NCAA rules under former head coach Rich Rodriguez.

Then, this past summer, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was forced to resign amid a scandal that saw multiple members of the OSU squad selling memorabilia in exchange for tattoos and other impermissible benefits. The scandal also led to the suspension of five players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who has since left school and declared for the NFL’s supplemental draft.

While Delany expressed disappointment in the recent violations, he said he is confident in the direction the conference is headed in the future.

He added that each member is fully aware of what he expects from the schools.

“No. 1, we believe in reveal and report,” Delany said. “We’re pretty clear with our institutions that that is the foundation of how we want them to operate.”

“I talked to our coaches this morning at length. I said, ‘I want to make sure that everybody in this room understands, when you come across certain kinds of information, you have a responsibility to report it up the chain of command. You do not have any discretion about that,’” Delany added.

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald took it one step further, saying it is not just the coaches’ responsibility, but instead that of everyone involved with college football.

“There’s a lot going on right now in college football that I think we need to wrap our arms around as a complete and total body,” Fitzgerald said. “We will. We’ll make it better. … I don’t think there’s a coach or administrator in the country that doesn’t want to be a part of that solution.”

Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema offered a solution as well, suggesting harsh penalties for those who knowingly break the rules.

“If I had a dream world, I would say hammer the guys that don’t do things right,” Bielema said. “People are willingly and knowingly abusing rules and breaking things. To me, when you are consciously aware of abusing a rule, there’s no excuse for that.”

However, not all issues arise from coaches or even people directly associated with the program.

Alumni and boosters have also been involved in many violations in recent years, making it nearly impossible to stop someone who is willing to break the rules.

Penn State head coach Joe Paterno said the best you can do is educate everyone involved, a philosophy that has helped the Nittany Lions avoid any major violations in Paterno’s 45 years as head

coach.

“I tell our alumni all the time, ‘Stay out of it,’” Paterno said. “We try to keep them informed as to what they can do legally, what they can’t do legally.”