Updated: Big Ten’s working plan on Penn State ‘just one of many ideas’

72 Comments

Those wishing Penn State to be kicked out of the Big Ten for the Jerry Sandusky scandal, you’re allowed to get excited for about 10 seconds. Then you’ll have to come back to reality.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education (which requires a subscription to read), Big Ten leaders are considering a series of proposals in an 18-page plan prompted by the current situation at Penn State. Among the ideas being thrown around include removing the university from the conference.

Currently, the league’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors must approve any decision to suspend, expel, or place any member on probation. The Big Ten handbook requires at least a 60 percent vote for expulsion, though a Big Ten spokesperson told the Chronicle that number will increase to 70 percent (or, eight members) for 2012-13. If a recommendation is made to expel a member, that institution would have to show cause why it should not be expelled.

To vote Penn State out of the Big Ten would be unlikely, but the fact it’s reportedly being considered is some serious stuff nonetheless.

Additionally, the plan would also allow Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany to enforce financial penalties, suspensions, or fire individual athletic officials, including coaches, should their actions merit it.

News of the proposal comes days after NCAA president Mark Emmert said he would not rule out any punishment against PSU, though he doesn’t have the authority to do anything himself. Interim university president Rodney Erickson said the school will respond to NCAA requests for more information within the next week.

Updated 3:45 p.m.: In an email obtained by the Associated Press from Big Ten headquarters, the idea of a plan giving Jim Delany the authority to punish or outright fire an athletic individual is simply that — an idea —  and not finalized.

“It is a working document intended to generate ideas, not draw conclusions,” according to the email. “One provision in the document addresses `emergency authority of the commissioner’ – it is just one of many ideas.”

The Big Ten did not officially comment on the matter to the AP, though.

The statement corroborates how this 18-page plan should have been viewed to begin with: a discussion of last resorts for extreme cases. If Delany and Big Ten presidents agree to fire an athletic individual — if they’re actually given the go-ahead to do so, that is  — it has to be over actions that  “significantly harm the league’s reputation”, and that’s assuming the member institution hasn’t already taken action.

Same idea applies with expelling an institution. It would seem there would not only need to be a cause worthy of expulsion, but an equally blatant disregard for any kind of self-discipline by the university.

The Big Ten is doing what it should: addressing a case of institutional failure on an astonishing scale.

Suspended Mich. St. staffer receives one-MONTH contract extension

Getty Images
1 Comment

A disturbing situation in East Lansing has added a head-scratching twist.

According to ESPN.com, and by way of a Freedom of Information request, Michigan State football staffer Curtis Blackwell was on the receiving end of a one-month contract extension earlier this month.  Blackwell, whose title with the football program is director of college advancement and performance, was set to see his contract expire at the end of this week.

What makes this development noteworthy is that Blackwell has been indefinitely suspended by the Spartans since early February.

Around that time, it was confirmed by the university that three still-unnamed MSU football players had been suspended after allegations of sexual assault were made against them last month.  An unnamed football staffer was suspended at the time as well; that staffer was subsequently identified as Blackwell.

A police investigation, as well as a Title IX probe, into the allegations continue.  Blackwell is not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault, but rather a non-sexual crime that’s connected to the investigation.

Mark Dantonio hadn’t spoken publicly about the allegations until earlier this week, and the head coach probably would’ve been better served to have kept it that way.

A&M, UCLA both add New Mexico to future schedules

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Texas A&M and UCLA announced Wednesday that their 2017 opener had been moved from Saturday to Sunday.  As it turns out, that wasn’t the only scheduling news connecting the two football programs.

As part of a release announcing seven games being added to its future schedules, New Mexico confirmed that two of those contests will include A&M and UCLA.  Both of those games, obviously, will be on the road, with the Lobos traveling to College Station Sept. 18, 2021, and to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl Sept. 13, 2025.

In its release, the school wrote that “[t]he game in College Station has a guarantee of $1,100,000 and 450 complementary tickets,” while “[t]he game in Pasadena has a guarantee of $1,200,000 plus 2,000 complementary tickets that UNM can sell for extra revenue.”

The last and only time New Mexico and UCLA squared off was in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl, a 27-13 win for the Bruins.  UNM and A&M actually completed a home-and-home series relatively recently, with the Aggies winning both games played in the 2008 (28-22) and 2009 (41-6) seasons.

In addition to the future Power Five games, a continuation of the long-running rivalry with UTEP will be extended.  UNM will play in El Paso in 2021, then host UTEP in 2022.  Those two games will mark the 79th and 80th contests in the regional rivalry.

Michigan State, Washington round out future schedules with Utah State

Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Needing to fill a single spot in some future schedules, both Michigan State and Washington have come calling to the Mountain West for an opponent. Utah State was happy to oblige.

Michigan State will host Utah State on September 1, 2018. The Aggies will travel to Washington on September 19, 2020. For their travels, Utah State will collect $2.9 million between the two games, according to FBScheduels.com ($1.4 million from Michigan State, $1.5 million from Washington).

The Big Ten and Pac-12 each use nine-game conference schedules, leaving three spots open for non-conference games. The Big Ten requires all conference members schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent (the Pac-12 has no such requirement of its members at this time), although exceptions are made. Utah State, as a member of the Mountain West Conference, would not satisfy that requirement for the Big Ten, but the Spartans already have a road game against Arizona State (Pac-12) on the schedule in 2018. Michigan State and Arizona State will play again in 2019 in East Lansing. Michigan State also has future power conference matchups with Notre Dame (2017, 2026, 2027) and Miami (2020, 2021). Michigan State will also play BYU in 2020 in Provo.

Washington has future power conference matchups with Rutgers (2017), Auburn (2018, in Atlanta), and Michigan (2020, 2021). The Huskies will also face Mountain West Competition from Fresno State (2017), Hawaii (2019), and Nevada (2027).

Utah State will face power conference opponents on the road in 2017 (Wisconsin, Wake Forest), 2018 (Michigan State), 2019 (Wake Forest, LSU), 2020 (Washington), and 2021 (Washington State). Utah State will also host Washington State in 2020 as part of a home-and-home deal. Utah State also has an annual series against BYU running through 2020.

Old Dominion hopes to “hit the ground running” on new stadium project

Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Some fans of the Old Dominion football program may be getting a little impatient with the progress (or lack of) in the development of the football stadium, but Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig says things are coming along nicely and progress will start to be seen soon enough.

“Once we get the architects engaged, we’ll figure out what $55 million will buy in 2019 dollars,” Selig said, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “Then we’ll have an idea for how much additional money needs to be raised to support the project.”

Old Dominion is planning on tearing down Foreman Field at the end of the 2018 season and rebuild it with modern seating and amenities. The $55 million project remained on the books in the Virginia budget in February, allowing the university to move ahead with their plans. The first step is finding an architect to take on the job.

Because Old Dominion’s football stadium is among the smallest in the nation and will remain so even after the rebuild and renovations, the entire project is expected to move fairly swiftly once the work actually begins. Old Dominion isn’t building a grand football palace, so any concerns over the lack of updates on the stadium should be calmed.

If nothing else, the concerns raised about the lack of updates on the stadium renovations may just mean Old Dominion has some eager fans excited about the future of the program.