Thursday, the Chronicle of Higher Education sent ripples through college football with an exclusive report outlining Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany's efforts to become Supreme Dictator of the conference by claiming direct authority to hire and fire rogue coaches with the support of a committee of university presidents – an unprecedented expansion of conference power over personnel decisions at individual, state-governed institutions. The source: A copy of an "18-page plan prompted by problems at Penn State" and "being circulated among Big Ten leaders." Predictably, Big Ten coaches were not amused.
Yeah… about that plan. According to a statement released to ESPN.com Friday morning, the proposal in question was preliminary, exploratory and most definitely not for public consumption (emphasis added):
There have been several reports, stemming from an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, that reference certain emergency powers described in a draft document entitled Standards and Procedures For Safeguarding Institutional Control of Intercollegiate Athletics that has been under review by the Big Ten's Council of Presidents and Chancellors. The draft obtained by the Chronicle was an early draft put together by the Big Ten staff in order to surface all of the options available. The option of giving emergency powers to the Commissioner to fire personnel is not under consideration by the Presidents and Chancellors.
So there you have it: Jim Delany still cannot fire your head coach, and will not be able to fire your head coach at any point in the foreseeable future, even when you really kind of wish he would. He can't hire your next coach, either, an alleged proposal that apparently landed with such a thud it didn't even it make into the list of first-run, spitball plans. Well, if nothing else, at least the undercooked reporting managed to steal a few headlines from the all-encompassing media supernova that is SEC media days.
The league's response is equally notable for the part of the Chronicle scoop that it didn't refute, the one that claimed Big Ten presidents are currently debating whether to allow Penn State to remain in the conference at all in the wake of the devastating Jerry Sandusky sex scandal. PSU is already facing crippling judgments from the NCAA and the Department of Education for its negligent response to allegations Sandusky was abusing children in the Nittany Lion locker room, including the possibility that the football program will be shut down under the "death penalty." Current language in the 2011-12 Big Ten handbook requires any member that fails to show complete and accurate information during an investigation to "show cause why its membership in the conference should not be suspended or terminated." At the final stage, expulsion would require a vote of at least 70 percent, or eight of twelve member schools.
So pay no attention to the part about the commissioner wielding unchecked authority over his minions. But don't forget that no one's position here is guaranteed.