BIG TEN STILL BIG ON RUTGERS
The Big Ten’s 2015 football schedule came out yesterday. Among it’s 12 games that season Rutgers will play seven conference games, at home with Ohio State, Michigan State, Nebraska and other Big Ten newcomer Maryland, while taking on Penn State, Indiana and Wisconsin on the road. This is a significant development, coming on the same day Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was in New York to preview his conference’s upcoming tie-in with the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, which is currently attempting to get out of a committment with the American Athletic Conference that carries over from it’s ill fated days as the Big East. Delany also has visits to his two newest campuses on his travel schedule to the northeast corridor, though he’s probably facing fewer headaches when he arrives at Maryland. At Rutgers he’s certain to be inundated with questions regarding the personnel fiascos that have dominated the headlines at the current AAC school since it was announced in November that the Scarlet Knights had accepted an invitation to join the Big Ten. It was a foregone conclusion that, if the invitation came, Rutgers would accept, only later did we discover how eager Rutgers was to jump, before the spit hit the wind and the lid came off what now appears to have been a coverup of actions by basketball coach Mike Rice, with videos of him abusing players in practice in evidence in the athletic department offices well before the Big Ten called. The situation got worse following the firings of Rice and athletic director Tim Pernetti, with the hiring of Julie Hermann as Pernetti’s replacement, a situation that became an embarrassment of it’s own. A newspaper investigation into Hermann’s history before her stint as an associate athletic director at Louisville turned up charges of player abuse during her days as the women’s volleyball coach at Tennesse, a 17 year old charge that, on it’s own, she should have been able to survive. But further newspaper investigations turned up an embarrassing wedding video and similar accusations at Louisville. All of this led to speculation the Big Ten, already dealing with the most stinging scandal in college athletics history, at Penn State, might have a change of heart and withdraw the invitation to Rutgers. Delany tried to defuse that speculation yesterday, saying “Rutgers is coming in. Rest assured Rutgers will be a member of the Big Ten, on time, in place and will make fabulous contributions, not withstanding any personnel issues last month, this month or next month.” Other than that Delany seems content to let Rutgers officials bring this situation to a satisfactory conclusion, which is likely to result in the withdrawal of the job offer to Hermann, if she doesn’t withdraw from the position herself. This time, however, some advice for Rutgers. Rather than letting your search committee select the next candidate, turn the job over to the sports departments of the Newark Star Ledger and the New York Times. Whatever the committee did in researching candidates, had little, if anything at all, to do with vetting their pasts and determining their qualifications. The committee itself was just another embarrassment to the university community. Rutgers may be just one more embarrassment away from making Jim Delany change his mind. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.