University of Iowa president Sally Mason believes breakdowns in leadership which led to the scandal at Penn State can provide others with an opportunity to learn.
Mason, the chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors, fielded questions Monday after the conference levied its own penalties on top of sanctions handed down by the NCAA.
“This is not a proud moment for the Big Ten,” Mason said. “All of us are taking this seriously because this is a situation that could happen to any Division I or other Big Ten schools. These are the types of things which weigh heavy on our minds.”
Mason said the situation should cause administrators across the country, including herself, to take a hard look at intercollegiate athletics programs and how they fit into the fabric of the institutions they lead.
“When situtations arise, you try to learn from them,” she said, adding that the ultimate core objective of any university must remain educating the students who attend the school.
“This situation illustrates that we have a lot of room for improvement and growth,” Mason said.
She said the Penn State situation is an example of where the culture of the institution had been reshaped by the importance of its football program.
Mason believes a lack of transparency within leadership at Penn State led the program and the institution down a slippery slope.
“Here at Iowa, we try to be as open and transparent as we possibly can can,” Mason said. “Our media asks hard questions frequently and we try to provide them with answers as best we can.”
Mason was joined by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany during a teleconference.
Both expressed shock, sadness and disappointment in the events that transpired at Penn State.
They also addressed a number of issues surrounding the situation.
Mason said expulsion of Penn State from the Big Ten was among a wide variety of potential scenarios considered, but she said it was met with little traction.
Delany does not envision a reshaping of the football divisions based on the penalties the Penn State program was handed.
“The divisions were set the way they were for decades and not years, based on sound data over a significant number of years,” Delany said.
He does anticipate that there will be some short term and perhaps mid term competitiveness issues that Penn State will have to work through because of scholarship reductions.
While Iowa does host the Nittany Lions this season on Oct. 21, the Hawkeyes are not scheduled to play Penn State in either 2013 or 2014. The teams resume competition against each other in 2015.