By ANDREW SELIGMAN
AP Sports Writer
CHICAGO — Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany took a non-committal stance on an effort by five Pennsylvania Congressmen to rescind sanctions against Penn State for its handling of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.
Several outlets reported that U.S. Reps. Charlie Dent, Mike Doyle, Glenn Thompson, Jim Gerlach and Mike Kelly wrote a letter to NCAA President Mark Emmert saying that penalties handed out by the governing body based on former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell’s recommendation deprive innocent players of opportunities.
The punishments include a $60 million fine and reduced football scholarships. The team remains on probation that includes no bowl-game participation through the 2015 season.
Delany said he had not seen the letter but looks forward to getting a copy of it “and learning more about the request.” He also voiced his support for Penn State’s leadership.
“The leadership over the last three years, two years I guess, by President (Rodney) Erickson, (former athletic director) Dave Joyner and (former) coach (Bill) O’Brien really met the challenge as far as we are concerned,” Delany said. “We are a partner in the integrity agreement among and between the Big Ten, Penn State and the NCAA. We’ve worked really closely with Senator Mitchell and have fully supported his recommendations as this has played out. I’m unfamiliar with (the letter). I hope that if progress continues to be made, that the NCAA would look positively on any request that is suggested by Senator Mitchell.”
New coach James Franklin had little to say about the letter. His attention was on the opener against Central Florida on Aug. 30.
“My focus is on what to call on third down against Central Florida,” he said. “Obviously, that’s something that’s floating out there and we’ll see what happens. But again, I’ve spent very little time thinking and talking about those things because I don’t want to be disappointed. I don’t want our players to be disappointed, so we just focus on what we know. Right now, it’s very black and white, so we focus on that.”
BRAXTON’S BACK: Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is ready to go after missing spring practices following surgery on his right shoulder.
The Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year the past two seasons, he was injured in the Orange Bowl loss to Clemson. He wasn’t operated on until February and needed two months to recover, causing him to sit out spring practices.
“It’s good,” Miller said. “Two months. I’m feeling pretty good.”
SPRINKLE’S STATUS: Ohio State defensive lineman Tracy Sprinkle is off the team after being arrested on charges of cocaine possession, rioting and failure to disperse after a bar fight in northeast Ohio three weeks ago.
Sprinkle was suspended following the incident. Coach Urban Meyer said Monday at the team’s annual media with the team that Sprinkle “is no longer with the program” and that he will “readdress” his status “if there’s some changes.”
A Lorain police report said Sprinkle was arrested after police responded to a fight at the Grown N/Sexy Bar and found large groups fighting inside and outside the bar. The report said Sprinkle was first charged with rioting and failure to disperse and later with drug possession after suspected cocaine was found hidden in the seat of a police car where Sprinkle was held.
THEY SAID IT: Maryland coach Randy Edsall, when asked if he kept an eye on the ACC media days last week:
“I was in St. Thomas and I was enjoying the heck out of St. Thomas.” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, when asked how he maintains the intensity for the Michigan rivalry when the Spartans have won five of six from the Wolverines: “I continue to live in Michigan. That ought to do it.”