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Big Ten Reportedly Considers Allowing Commissioner to Fire Coaches

Under a proposal currently being considered by Big Ten Conference leaders, Commissioner Jim Delany and the conference's council of presidents and chancellors (COPC) would have the power to fire athletic coaches who damage their school's reputation, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Big Ten leaders came out and denied the story Friday, saying "giving emergency powers to the commissioner to fire personnel is not under consideration," according to the Associated Press.

The Chronicle, which broke the story Thursday morning, reports that the 18-page proposal originated as a result of the fallout from the Penn State child sex-abuse scandal. Conference leaders told the AP that the draft obtained by the Chronicle was an "early draft ... to surface all of the options available."

The conference also hasn't ruled out booting Penn State out entirely, according to the Chronicle.

The first page of the draft standards reminds university officials that "each member of the conference is affected when any member institution fails to maintain proper control over its intercollegiate athletics program." As such, the conference appears intent on doing a better job ensuring that each university maintains institutional control over its athletic program.

The proposal calls for each school to specifically identify who has the authority to make certain decisions and only allow said person to execute such decisions. Each school would be required, on a yearly basis, to submit a review in writing to the conference detailing its governance system regarding institutional control of athletics.

The conference would also conduct external compliance audits of each member institution at least once every four years under the proposal. Beyond the regular audits, universities could request an external audit from the conference at any time. The conference would also investigate any school after receiving information that the school may not be compliant with these new standards.

Under the proposal, the COPC would "have the authority to sanction individual members of a Member Institution," including being able to levy fines, suspensions, or even terminations.

Mississippi athletic director Ross Bjork told the AP, "I don't think anyone has proposed anything like that before in college athletics."

A higher education lawyer told the Chronicle later Thursday that he didn't "think [the proposal] would pass muster."

"You would have to look at the bylaws of each university to see whether it was even permissible to allow an outside, private organization to come in and fire one of their employees," said Raymond D. Cotton to the paper. "I doubt it, and I don't think it's good policy."

On Friday, the paper reported that Delany had also discussed the prospect of giving himself the authority to hire men's football and basketball coaches, although that specific proposal never made it into the draft standards released Thursday.

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