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Big Ten - COP/C Statement: Sanctions Threatened Against Penn State For Sandusky Scandal

[Bumped with a new post title. Seems like public relations posturing on the surface, but the bulletpoints are a bit troublesome. - C.G.]

Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors (COP/C) held its regularly scheduled meeting this week with several items on its Agenda, including the series of events recently unfolding at Penn State University.

With regard to the Penn State matter, the Big Ten office issued the following statement on behalf of the COP/C:

The Big Ten Presidents and Chancellors express their sincere concern for any harm done to innocent young victims and their families. Protection of our children is one of society’s most central responsibilities and institutions of higher education should be particularly vigilant. We are committed to examining our own institutions to assure that effective measures are taken to assure the safety of children on our campuses.

It has been approximately one month since the initial release of the Grand Jury report in the Penn State matter and a number of federal, state and institutional investigations have been launched. While it is premature to reach any conclusions regarding civil or criminal liability arising out of these events, there does appear to be sufficient information to raise significant concerns as to whether a concentration of power in a single individual or program may have threatened or eroded institutional control of intercollegiate athletics at Penn State.

As a result, the COP/C has determined that:

· It will gather and review the facts arising out of the allegations in the Grand Jury report that pertain to matters of institutional control, ethical conduct and/or other compliance related issues;

· It will request from Penn State University and the NCAA that Big Ten legal counsel be allowed to participate in the investigations or reviews, as the case may be, being conducted by Penn State and the NCAA as pertain to these issues; and

· It will reserve the right to impose sanctions, corrective or other disciplinary measures in the event that adverse findings are made in the areas of institutional control, ethical conduct and/or other Conference related matters.

In addition, the COP/C discussed the imperative of maintaining the public’s trust in the integrity of its member institutions and, in earning and deserving this trust, the importance of asserting each institution’s control over its intercollegiate athletics programs. The COP/C recognized and acknowledged that from time to time its institutions have failed to maintain the proper control of their athletics programs and that whenever this occurs at one institution in the Conference, due to the common bonds and shared values of the members of the Big Ten, each other member of the Conference is impacted.

Accordingly, the COP/C has directed the Conference to initiate an immediate review of the fundamental issues and systems affecting intercollegiate athletics, including the serious issues relating to the institutional control of athletics. It intends for this review to lead to the consideration of a common set of “stress tests” or other criteria that could be applied by the Conference to its member institutions (a) to insure that each member is responsible and accountable to the collective membership of the Conference for the control and operation of its intercollegiate athletics programs as well as (b) to prevent anyone, whether a trustee, administrator, faculty member, athletic director, coach, booster or otherwise, from eroding the effectiveness of an institution’s practices and procedures designed to protect the institution’s integrity and control over its intercollegiate athletic programs.

The COP/C intends for the review to be completed and for the proposed standards, stress tests and other criteria, along with the proposed enforcement procedures and penalties, to be presented to it for consideration at a special meeting to be held in spring 2012.

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