Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
CHICAGO – Ohio State coach Urban Meyer took exception to coaches being allowed to recruit current Penn State football players, but would not rule out signing a player that initiated contact with him.
Other Big Ten coaches do not share the same view.
“I have a problem with that,” Meyer said of coaches actively recruiting PSU players. “But as a player, a young man has a right to play wherever he wants to play. We have to keep that in mind.”
As part of the sanctions levied against Penn State for the child-sex abuse scandal involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and former coach Joe Paterno, the NCAA said current PSU players are allowed to transfer to any school without penalty – even if that school is within the Big Ten.
Some schools have taken a more active approach than others.
Illinois had eight assistant coaches at “two establishments” in State College, Pa., Wednesday and “called individuals” to meet, Illinois coach Tim Beckman said.
“We only talked to individuals that would be willing to meet with us,” Beckman said. “We did not go after them. They had the opportunity to come to us if they wanted to.”
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany met with coaches early Thursday and said he advised them to let the athletic directors handle the communication between a school and a potential transfer candidate from PSU.
Delany said there was nothing illegal about Illinois sending coaches to State College, but did not necessarily endorse it.
“I would hope they would take (the Thursday meeting) into consideration,” Delany said.
Purdue coach Danny Hope also expressed interest in pursuing Penn State’s players.
“The NCAA has established the rules and the guidelines and obviously because they’re strong from an ethics standpoint, and as long as we’re compliant, we’re going to exercise every opportunity we can to enhance our own football team,” Hope said.
The Nittany Lions are faced with a four-year bowl ban and a reduction of 40 scholarships over four years. The school was also fined $60 million.
Wednesday, many members of the Nittany Lions team made a joint statement and announced their intentions to stay at the school despite the sanctions.
Multiple reports have said PSU junior running back Silas Redd met with USC coach Lane Kiffin about possibly transferring, but no announcement has been made.
First-year Nittany Lions coach Bill O’Brien said no player has told him of his intentions to transfer and that he is not concerned about other schools recruiting his players.
“I have no idea what other schools were on campus, nor do I care,” O’Brien said. “(Other schools) can do what they want as long as they tell our compliance office that they’re contacting these kids, and it is what it is.”
Delany said that the Big Ten university presidents unanimously voted to allow PSU players to transfer within the Big Ten, but most coaches seem to taking a hands-off approach.
Michigan’s Brady Hoke, Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema, Nebraska’s Bo Pelini and Minnesota’s Jerry Kill all had expressed views similar to Meyer and said they would not recruit PSU football players.
“I made the decision as head coach that we would not reach out to any Penn State players,” Bielema said. “I think one of the things that I’ve loved about being in this conference is a genuine respect for everybody in our league that you are a Big Ten brother.
“I have a group of 105 players that are reporting on Aug. 5 that I want to understand and believe that I think they can help us win another championship. And to bring someone in at this point so close to the season, I just wasn’t comfortable with it.”