You wouldn't think it could get worse for Penn State with the NCAA president threatening to impose football sanctions that would make USC's look like a slap on the proverbial wrist. You'd apparently be wrong.
University of Iowa president Sally Mason told the Des Moines Register Thursday that the Big Ten also had "jurisdiction" to punish the Nittany Lions over the school's handling of Jerry Sandusky and would be considering sanctions of its own once the NCAA has announced its sanctions. The Register published the remarks in a story Sunday.
“I think you can expect when the NCAA is ready to talk about what the appropriate actions are with regard to Penn State, that we'll be ready to talk about appropriate actions with regard to the conference as well,” Mason said. "We're watching the NCAA closely."
“The conference definitely has jurisdiction to take action in a case like this,” she said. “Exactly what actions we'll take ... it's premature.”
Mason is the chair of the Big Ten's council of presidents and chancellors.
Although the NCAA's punishment seems likely to consist of massive scholarship losses, a multiyear bowl ban and possibly the revival of a television ban, the Big Ten's potential sanctions are more nebulous. The league could withhold conference revenues, remove the Nittany Lions from its Big Ten Network or require additional scholarship losses or bowl suspensions to complement the NCAA's.
The Big Ten could also deploy the nuclear option: booting Penn State out of the conference entirely. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported last week that the league hasn't ruled out taking a vote on the school's continuing membership, one that would require eight of the 12 schools to vote in favor of Penn State's removal for the proposal to pass. The conference bylaws require any member that fails to show complete, accurate information during an investigation to "show cause why its membership in the conference should not be suspended or terminated."
(It's worth noting that the Big Ten subsequently issued a statement refuting much of that same Chronicle report ... except for the speculation over a Penn State vote.)
But for now, whatever its inclinations regarding Penn State -- and given Mason's tone and her position of leadership among the league's most powerful administrators, its inclinations probably aren't all that friendly -- the Big Ten can do nothing but wait to see what NCAA president Mark Emmert unveils tomorrow. Many observers said following Jerry Sandusky's conviction that the bad news had only begun for Penn State; that's a prediction that's so far proven all too true.
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