Sunday, June 5, 2011
Delany 'Disappointed' in Tressel's 'Fundamental' Error
Anger? Jim Delany wouldn’t go there. The Big Ten commissioner insisted he only gets ticked at his dog, not that we know what kind of dog he has or what deed would merit that kind of reaction.
As for ex-Oho State football coach Jim Tressel lying to just about everybody on the planet about what he knew about his players breaking NCAA rules, well, anger wasn’t part of Delany’s reaction.
Disappointment, however, was.
“I was disappointed, surprised and wished it hadn’t happened,” he said. “It’s been hard on the coach; it's been hard on the players; it's been hard on the fans. The test is how resilient you are. How do you manage this kind of challenge? I have tremendous confidence in that program to be resilient.”
Delany has spent the last two decades working to ensure the Big Ten represents the best of college athletics. The fall of Indiana’s basketball program under Kelvin Sampson and now the turmoil surrounding Ohio State football (Tressel has resigned, quarterback Terrelle Pryor is under NCAA investigation, five players have been suspended for breaking NCAA rules) has shaken that image.
Delany said he’s made it clear that for those in a position of responsibility, as Tressel was, there is a responsibility to do something when they receive information of possible violations. They must tell the appropriate people who will then report to the NCAA. Tressel learned in April of 2010 about possible violations, but never told anyone but the mentor of Pryor.
Why Tressel told him remains one of the great mysteries of this situation.
“How Coach Tressel handled it was not the right way,” Delany said. “You have to force it up the chain of command. The chain broke when the coach didn’t forward the information.”
A Sports Illustrated story said at least 28 Buckeye football players sold memorabilia for tattoos, which is an NCAA violation, and that it’s been going on for at least nine years.
Six players, including Pryor, were identified last winter as having sold memorabilia for tattoos and were suspended for the first five games of this coming season. However, they were allowed to participate in the Sugar Bowl.
The NCAA and the Big Ten, including Delany, took a lot of criticism for that, as they should have. If they broke NCAA rules, and they did, the suspension should have gone into affect immediately.
“At the time I was involved with that,” Delany said, “I took the facts as presented to me that Ohio State had just become aware of the tattoo extra benefit. For me at the time there was not a coach involvement or an agent involvement or a booster involvement. It was kids making some bad judgments. The NCAA made the decision about the Sugar Bowl.
“I was surprised that Coach Tressel had previous knowledge. That can happen. I was disappointed. I didn’t feel much more than that. I knew it was a serious matter. I’ve made it clear to coaches and athletic directors that when information becomes available (about possible NCAA violations) you have no choice, you have to forward it. The failure to do that was a fundamental error.”
Ohio State and Tressel are set to meet with the NCAA infractions committee on Aug. 12. Within six weeks the committee is likely to decide what penalties to impose. Could the Big Ten be proactive and make Ohio State ineligible for the inaugural Big Ten football title game this December in Indianapolis?
“The next step will play out over the next few months between Ohio State and the NCAA,” Delany said. “I’m confident they will look at the facts. There will be a lot of hard questions for Ohio State. The infractions committee will make a decision and we’ll accept it. There’s a broad range of things that could happen and I can’t predict what that will be.”
In case you missed it, the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors have decided on the league's future regarding football and basketball. The football championship game is set for Indianapolis Lucas Oil Stadium through 2015, beating out Chicago's Soldier Field. The men’s and women’s basketball tourneys will be held at Indianapolis’ Conseco Fieldhouse in 2012, 2014 and 2016. The men’s tourney will be at Chicago’s United Center in 2013 and 2015. The women’s tourney will be at Sears Centre Arena in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates in 2013 and 2015.