In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky trial and the cover-up by Penn State officials of the fact that Jerry Sandusky was sexually abusing children, there has been much speculation on what the future holds for the Penn State football program.
What sanctions will the program face?
Will the Paterno statue be taken down?
Will the NCAA remove the football team from the school altogether for a period of time (the Death Penalty)?
However, few have asked what the Big Ten will do with the program. Could the Big Ten decide to remove Penn State from the conference?
It has been rumored that the conference may be considering expulsion. Although there are a number of steps that must be taken for the conference to expel a member, the Big Ten handbook allows a 60 percent vote from the conference’s council of Presidents and Chancellors to expel a university from the conference. Given the incredibly poor public image Penn State currently has, it is very possible that leaders from the other schools may not want to be associated with Penn State in any way.
It may seem highly unlikely the Big Ten will remove Penn State, but the possibility may be greater than you think.
For the good of football (because let’s be honest, a decision will be made for the good of football), the Big Ten has to be proactive in their decision-making process. If the Big Ten waits for the NCAA to give the program the death penalty, then the conference is stuck with only 11 schools. This means the Big Ten would not have enough schools for a conference championship game and a number of schools would be left with incomplete schedules once Penn State is removed. But, if the Big Ten could find a school to replace Penn State (take your pick of schools that would be willing to join the Big Ten) it would give incentive for the conference members to dump Penn State and to stay ahead of the possible death penalty effects.
Since Penn State has only been a member of the conference since 1993, the 20-year anniversary might be the perfect time to say goodbye to the university. However, I do not anticipate the conference ridding itself of Penn State unless they believe the death penalty is a distinct possibility. The Big Ten will not find another football program like Penn State. The university’s other sports compete well within the conference, and they are waiting for the hockey program to join the conference in 2013. Then they’ll have enough teams to make a Big Ten hockey conference. So hockey may end up saving football. Not to mention, the university itself has academic prestige the Big Ten appreciates. But if the chances that Penn State’s football program will be cancelled by the NCAA become too close to call, do not be surprised to see the Big Ten pull the trigger.
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