Big Ten Notebook: Coaches back new NCAA legislation


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The NCAA ruled on Tuesday that coaches could face suspensions of up to one year for violations that are committed by assistant coaches on their staffs.

A number of violations and scandals have rocked the Big Ten in recent years, but the conference coaches jumped to defend the new NCAA sanctions during the Big Ten teleconference on Tuesday.

The NCAA also specified that programs can suffer long postseason bans and fines up to seven figures for infractions, which will now be classified using a four-tier system, ranking from “severe breach of conduct” to “incidental issues.”

The new rules put the head coaches in an even greater position of responsibility for everyone involved in their programs.

And that’s the way the coaches want it.

Urban Meyer, who took over as Ohio State’s head coach after Jim Tressel left amid NCAA violations, said he was in full support of the new enforcement structure.

“I appreciate the NCAA revisiting the discipline structure and the penalty structure, because it was antiquated, and it was time to make a change,” he said. “Throughout history, the only way to keep civilization is to have very strong rules and enforce them. There’s no other way — very clear rules with firm and swift punishment.”

Meyer said he believes the new rules can “keep or even restore the integrity of college football.”

The new rules have been critiqued since they were announced on Tuesday because head coaches could potentially be punished for the actions of program staff members who never report directly to the head coach.

Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said it shouldn’t be an issue, however.

“I would say this to any head coach who is concerned: If you have cause for concern with anybody that is touching your football program, well then, you’ve got problems,” the seventh-year head coach said. “We don’t hire guys who aren’t character people in our program; that’s all I can speak for. If it’s a young man who’s a recruiting assistant or an assistant strength coach or an assistant athletics trainer, all those people work for the football program … At the end of the day, the buck stops with the head coach. It’s our job to make sure everyone is on the same page.”

Indiana’s home-field advantage grows

Hoosier head coach Kevin Wilson said his team has noticed a difference at Memorial Stadium on game days.

There are more fans.

The Hoosiers have averaged around 5,000 more fans per game this season than they have in the past four years.

The 52,929-capacity stadium has held as little as 35,242 Hoosier fans in the past five years. But the stands have averaged 46,231 through four home games this season.

“We still need to get some bodies in the stands, though,” Wilson said. “Our crowd can always continue to be more vibrant, have more energy, and help us create a real home-field advantage … I’d love to have one this week with Iowa.”

The Hoosiers suffered through a 1-11 season last year, but they have already won three games this year. Four of their losses have been by 4 points or fewer.

Wilson said Hoosier fans are starting to recognize the program’s improvement.

“Our attendance this year has been really good,” the head coach said. “I think our fans have had some excitement that they think we’re building a better product.”

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