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Big Ten's Silence On Penn State Scandal Shouldn't Be Ignored

By Rob Winn in News on Jul 19, 2012 3:40PM

2012_7_19_big_ten.gif The Big Ten has been quiet since the Freeh Report was published late last week. The best example of that is how their mouthpiece, the Big Ten Network, tiptoed around the story and refused to cover significant events, failing to air the press conference on the release of the Freeh Report. Given that they haven't announced their own investigation, many are wondering if the Big Ten is merely attempting to ignore or downplay the scandal until it goes away.

The Big Ten Network said they didn't air the Freeh Report press conference because they they aren't a news network and only cover events related to the field. However, in an interview with Tavis Smiley, NCAA president Mark Emmert dispelled that thought when he refused to take the death penalty off the table for the Penn State football program.

“This is as systemic a cultural problem as it is a football problem. There have been people that said this wasn't a football scandal. Well, it was more than a football scandal, much more than a football scandal. It was that but much more. And we'll have to figure out exactly what the right penalties are. I don't know that past precedent makes particularly good sense in this case, because it's really an unprecedented problem.”

If Penn State is banned from playing football, that is certainly an event related to the field. The silence coming from the Big Ten and their network is likely a conference trying to keep from angering one of their marquee schools. But as the Freeh Report shows, when money and institutions are the main concern, severe problems arise.

If they are content to let the NCAA lead the investigation into penalties, then say so. But simply trying to ignore it is a mistake and an insult as more victims come forward. Also, with the perjury trial of former Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and retired Vice President Gary Schultz set to begin Aug. 17, this story is only going to get bigger.

One thing is certain, when the Big Ten Media Day kicks off July 26 at McCormick Place, they'll face every question imaginable about their thoughts on the report, the ongoing NCAA investigation and what they plan on doing about the tragedy. If the Big Ten wants to be the powerful institution they portray themselves as, then they would be wise to address this front and center. If not, they'll just be another powerless entity whose sole purpose is to make money for over-important athletic programs. Some things never change.