Penn State Scandal: Jim Delany, How Much Moral Authority Does the NCAA Have?

Michael Felder@InTheBleachersNational CFB Lead WriterJuly 27, 2012

CHICAGO - MARCH 11:  The Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate as they are presented with the trophy by Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany (C, w/microphone) following Ohio St.'s 66-49 win against the Wisconsin Badgers during the Final of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Conference Tournament March 11, 2007 at the United Center in Chiago Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Big Ten Media Days have been going on and the big man himself, Jim Delany, got up and gave his state of the union address for the conference, complete with thoughts on Penn State.

He had to make Penn State remarks—after all, the scandal happened in his footprint, at his third-biggest moneymaker and he was just days removed from stripping the school of its bowl revenue for the duration of sanctions.

B/R Big Ten Blogger Adam Jacobi reports on the most telling point made by Delany:

"I don't really care if it's a precedent. I don't really care about whether or not they [NCAA] had jurisdiction or whether or not there was an underlying NCAA violation. There's been a lot of debate by pundits one way or the other.

"The only thing that matters to me is I think the NCAA did have moral authority to act, and I think the Big Ten had moral authority to act ..."

That's the telling—troubling is a better word perhaps—part of Delany's lengthy statement. I implore you to see the more complete transcript over at the B/R Big Ten Blog.

I know I most certainly am not, or should not, be alone in being troubled by a commissioner stating that no precedent, no jurisdiction, no violations, no problem; when it comes to blasting a team with sanctions. 

Especially when he opts for the very ambiguous term "moral authority" as a reason that it is all okay.

Instead of debating with people about what they should or should not have the "moral authority" to do, I just want to ask a few questions.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Where was this moral authority during the Gary Barnett situation at Colorado? One of the players the NCAA is supposed to protect makes a rape allegation, plus several other rape allegations. The NCAA did not jump in. Were Katie Hnida and the other girls not worth the moral authority to step in and investigate?

In their home state of Indiana, does Emmert not have the moral authority to step in and ask questions about the alleged rape of Lizzy Seeberg? A statement was made, but after Seeberg's suicide, the case was kicked out of court because her statement was inadmissible.

Is this one not worth their moral authority?

Speaking of Emmert's watch, the situation transpiring at Montana as the head coach and athletic director were both fired amid a sexual assault scandal. Robin Pflugrad, the now-fired head coach, did not report the suspensions of players for alleged sexual assaults to his superiors. We've got a coach with a clear gap in reporting and an athletic director attempting to "smooth things over" for the sake of the program. Surely, this warrants the use of the moral authority of the NCAA.

This is not to highlight more terrible issues in college football—rather the point here is, if the NCAA is going to use moral authority, then damn it, it better stand up for everyone. It better ask the questions, get the answers and come out on the side of good, whether it is convenient or not.

Or does this case only warrant it because of the public outcry and the massive spotlight shining on Penn State? Does it take multiple child-rape victims to warrant the use of moral authority? Do college girls not matter as much on the moral authority scale?

Keep in mind, folks, this is not about guilt or innocence.

The Freeh Report was not about Jerry Sandusky being guilty. Rather, it was about the systematic push to cover up child abuse and the lack of procedural follow-through on the side of Penn State.

In Montana's case, with the help of former Montana Supreme Court Justice Diane Barz, the Grizzlies have their own "Freeh Report" of sorts.

I was not in favor of the NCAA going down this path, but if it is going to travel the path of moral authority now, then it had better be prepared to ride the wave. You shouldn't get to pick when you stand up for the moral right.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.