One of myriad storylines heading into today’s historic announcement of sanctions on Penn State football was what impact debilitating and crippling penalties would have on Bill O’ Brien‘s future as the Nittany Lions’ head coach.
Specifically, the thought was that, if the sanctions were severe enough, O’ Brien may look to bolt the job he took less than seven months ago. Technically that could very well happen, although it would cost the coach millions of dollars.
According to Sara Ganim of the Patriot-News, O’ Brien’s five-year contract with Penn State contains no out clause, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer wrote, “that would allow him to leave if the football program is suspended… or if the NCAA imposed unprecedented and harsh sanctions.”
If O’ Brien were to resign, his contract calls for the coach to repay the university his annual base salary for every year remaining on the deal. As his base salary is $950,000, he would owe the university $4.75 million.
Alas, it doesn’t appear a search for a new head football coach will be in Penn State’s future.
In a statement released shortly after the sanctions were announced, O’ Brien reiterated his dedication to both the football program and the university, saying in part that “I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead.”
“Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as Head Coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the University forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence. I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes.
“I was then and I remain convinced that our student athletes are the best in the country. I could not be more proud to lead this team and these courageous and humble young men into the upcoming 2012 season. Together we are committed to building a better athletic program and university.”
O’Brien’s first order of business will be to attempt to keep as many of his current players and members of his 2012 recruiting class from bolting. As part of the NCAA sanctions, current players are free to transfer anywhere and be eligible to play immediately, while incoming freshman can be released from their Letters of Intent if they so desire.
That process began at 10 a.m. this morning with a team meeting, which concluded shortly before 10:30.