At Penn State, Joe Paterno and his football program were so big, powerful and unaccountable that a pedophile coach got away with it for years.
No one yelled rat; no one called the authorities. JoePa wanted it that way, in the name of being "humane."
Yes, absolute power corrupts. Absolutely.
So, in the name of preventing future Penn States, the Big Ten is considering making the power of its commissioner even more absolute. Some want to give Jim Delany the power to fire member schools' coaches.
GEE, what could go wrong with that?
The Associated Press tells us how an entire conference full of college muckedy-mucks can't see the irony here . . . or conceive of how such a scheme ever could go horribly wrong. Ever.
In the wake of the scandal at Penn State, the Big Ten Conference is considering a plan to give its commissioner the power to punish schools with financial sanctions, suspensions and even the ability to fire coaches.BIG TEN types, particularly the academics among them, fancy themselves and those associated with their institutions to be a cut above. If you're talking wool production, maybe.
An 18-page plan being circulated among Big Ten leadership raises the possibility of giving Commissioner Jim Delany such authority, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported Thursday, citing a document it had obtained.
The Big Ten did not respond to requests for comment, but confirmed that the proposal — titled "Standards and Procedures for Safeguarding Institutional Control of Intercollegiate Athletics" — is being discussed.
"It is a working document intended to generate ideas, not draw conclusions," according to an email sent from Big Ten headquarters to people in the league. "One provision in the document addresses 'emergency authority of the commissioner' - it is just one of many ideas."
Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was recently convicted of sexually abusing 10 boys, sometimes on campus. A report commissioned by Penn State said school leaders, including the late coach Joe Paterno, ignored allegations more than a decade ago to avoid bad publicity, allowing Sandusky to prey on other boys for years. Paterno's family said he never participated in an attempt to cover up wrongdoing.
The NCAA and U.S. Education Department are investigating Penn State for potential rules and policy violations; the issue of "institutional control" is believed to be a key part of the NCAA probe, since problems there can lead to athletic penalties. The Chronicle said the Big Ten is still discussing how to handle fallout from the scandal at one of its member schools; currently, its 12-member Council of Presidents and Chancellors must approve any decision to suspend or expel one of the league's schools.
Whether Delany would ever be granted the power to fire coaches or punish schools was unknown. The Big Ten email said the council would have to approve such a sweeping change.
Penn State's not the only campus where football -- or, alternatively, basketball -- is king. Yet these smarter-than-your-average-Joe eggheads can't imagine how some power-drunk commish might use Coach as a Sword of Damocles, albeit one with a whistle and a bag of balls, to bring obstreperous conference members into line on a Very Important Matter, meaning Whatever the Hell the Commissioner Wants Today.
If your weasely boss at Paper-Pushers, Inc., can trump up a file full of "misdeeds" to get rid of that guy he just can't stand, what do you think someone with the resources and savvy of Delany might be able to cook up?
What? Don't think such a fine man as Jim Delany would stoop so low?
What? You think he'll be Big Ten commissioner forever? Or that absolute power doesn't corrupt . . . absolutely?
Don't feel bad about your naiveté. That's what we all thought about JoePa.
Fool us once. . . .