LINCOLN — The Big Ten Conference on Monday issued a public reprimand of Husker football coach Bo Pelini and also fined the University of Nebraska $10,000 for Pelini's comments regarding the officiating after the NU-Iowa game Friday.
NU Associate Athletic Director Chris Anderson told The World-Herald on Monday night that Pelini would be responsible for paying the fine. The Big Ten also said it considered the matter closed and would have no further comment.
In a statement, the Big Ten said it determined that Pelini's postgame comments were in violation of Big Ten Conference Agreement 10.01, which states in part that the league “expects all contests involving a member institution to be conducted without compromise to any fundamental element of sportsmanship. Such fundamental elements include integrity of competition, civility toward all, and respect, particularly toward opponents and officials.”
NU Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst said in the release that the university “embraces and supports” the Big Ten Sportsmanship Policy.
“In that regard, we were disappointed with Coach Pelini's actions this past Friday regarding game officials,” Eichorst said. “We immediately recognized and addressed the situation with Coach Pelini and the Big Ten Conference. In addition, Coach Pelini acknowledged and accepted responsibility for the inappropriateness of his actions and issued a public apology in advance of this reprimand.”
During the 38-17 loss to Iowa, Pelini vehemently objected to a pass-interference penalty called against linebacker Zaire Anderson midway through the third quarter. His strong sideline reaction, including swinging his hat in front of head linesman Steven Matarante, led to an additional 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
In his postgame press conference, Pelini said the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty “was a chicken---- call.” He also three times said the crew “blew” the pass interference call and said officials “didn't man up enough to pick that flag up.”
Pelini issued a statement Saturday that included addressing the incidents from the day before.
“I apologize for reacting emotionally yesterday and for showing frustration both with the game officials and the media,” Pelini said. “I fully understand and respect their difficult jobs, and I regret any and all actions or words which may have shed a negative light on our program and university.”
An NU spokesman said Monday night that Pelini would have no comment on the reprimand and fine.
The Big Ten office also issued a public reprimand of Ohio State player Marcus Hall for inappropriate gestures he made toward the Michigan Stadium crowd after being ejected from the OSU-Michigan game Saturday. The university was not fined, but the conference office also issued a public reprimand of the Buckeye coaching staff “for failing in its duty to effectively manage the process of escorting an ejected student-athlete from the playing field to the locker room.”
According to the Big Ten handbook, disciplinary actions for such violations of its sportsmanship policy can include reprimands, fines up to $10,000 or possible suspensions of up to two games.
The reprimand from a league office is the first for Pelini. After his sideline outbursts at Texas A&M in 2010 — when the Huskers were called for a school-record 16 penalties in a 9-6 loss — Pelini faced no disciplinary action from the Big 12, although NU Chancellor Harvey Perlman the following day admonished his behavior and said it did not reflect well on the university and football program.
Pelini previously this season apologized for an expletive-filled rant toward Nebraska fans after a 2011 game that was taped without his knowledge and released in September by Deadspin. That also was followed by a joint statement from Perlman and Eichorst saying they believed Pelini was sincere in his apology, but adding that the comments were “unfortunate and deeply concerning to us, as they would be to anyone who loves this university.”