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Liberty Dies in the Big Ten with Jim Delany

So this is how liberty dies…with Jim Delany.

Yesterday, the Chronicle for Higher Education released a stunning report from the Big Ten Commissioner’s Office. Conference officials fear that fallout from the Sandusky Scandal has spread to other schools within the league. However, the Big Ten Conference handbook does not provide regulations for handling a matter of this magnitude. As a result, proposals were drafted to deal with the current and potential crises.

On the PDF’s sixteenth page, two proposals are put forth that could threaten the independence of schools in the Big Ten Conference. First, if a university lacks institutional control, the Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COPC) could enact “financial penalties, restrictions on participating in televised athletic events or in regular or post-season athletic events, probations, suspension and expulsion” [Emphasis added]. According to the Chronicle, an unidentified Big Ten leader suggested that the Council could apply such a measure to Penn State. This presents a problem because the University would be punished for violating a rule that had not even existed.

The much more egregious proposition lies in the next paragraph. If the Big Ten Commissioner, which has been Jim Delany for over twenty years, believes that there is an emergency that requires immediate decision-making, the amendment states the “Commissioner will have the unilateral authority to take any and all actions [Emphasis added] that the Commissioner reasonably believes to be necessary in the best interest of the Conference and all of the Member Institutions.” The Chronicle says that this will allow Jim Delany to fire coaches.

In an earlier draft, Jim Delany wanted even more authority. He wanted the Big Ten to interfere with a university’s coaching hires. Since the Commissioner is independent from “boosters and campus politics” he could confer a wise decision upon the institution.

Imagine the United States presidential election. The American people elect (representatives to serve in the Electoral College who ultimately choose) the President of the United States. But in this bizarro universe, the United Nations decides that our president-elect will not do well with the other nations and vetoes our election. This is what Jim Delany wants to do with member institutions.

The Chronicle fails to notice an even worse fate than the hiring and firing of coaches. The amended handbook doesn’t specify what constitutes an emergency. (A weather disaster? A riot around a campus? A scandal? A Jedi coup?) This would allow Delany to assert any authority he damn well pleases because he’s the decider. Furthermore, if the Commissioner declares an emergency, and has unilateral authority to take any and all actions, he would be well within his right to expel any institution from the Big Ten. Dela- Palpatine would have to consult the COPC, but the amendment doesn’t suggest how the Council could overturn the Commissioner’s action.

These proposals are unacceptable for Penn State University and any other rational member of the Big Ten. If the amendments are ultimately approved, it is imperative for Penn State to exit the Big Ten. Penn State should join another conference or return to its independent status. (I’m certain that many fans of the past would enjoy seeing the Nittany Lions play their traditional rivals.)

The Emperor’s Office has decided that it can make and change the rules and apply them retroactively. Even more reprehensible are the “emergency powers” granted to the Dark Lord of the Sith and the ambiguity on which they could arise. In order to preserve our sovereignty and liberties, the University must refute all amendments or cease its conference membership.

About the Author

Doug Dooling, Jr.

I am a staff writer for Onward State. I graduated as a Nittany Lion with Honors in 2013. Now, I am back in Happy Valley to earn a degree at the Penn State Law. Outside of politics and government, my interests include college football, soccer, Irish history, and astronomy.


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