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PSU LB: NCAA transfer rules 'absolute joke'

| Thursday, July 26, 2012, 2:54 p.m.
Penn State coach Bill O'Brien speaks during the Big Ten football media day on Thursday, July 26, 2012, in Chicago. (M. Spencer Green | AP)

CHICAGO — Senior linebacker Michael Mauti took aim at the NCAA rule that allows Penn State players to transfer — and permits other schools to aggressively pursue them — calling it an “absolute joke.”

“There's been coaches hounding our players, 10-12 calls a day, on campus, outside of our apartments, outside of our classrooms,” Mauti said Thursday at Big Ten Media Day. “To me, it just doesn't seem right. That's the game they created, so I can't blame any coaches. They're playing under the rules.”

Coach Bill O'Brien has been trying to hold his team together in the aftermath of crippling NCAA sanctions levied earlier this week on Penn State. O'Brien groused that opposing coaches were on Penn State's campus Wednesday though he generally sidestepped questions about recruiting during interviews Thursday.

“I have no idea what schools were on campus,” O'Brien said. “Nor do I care. It's like NFL free agency without the rules. I don't really have anything else to say on that.”

Illinois is recruiting Penn State players, but coach Tim Beckman said the Illini are merely following the guidelines established by the NCAA. Illinois coaches were in State College on Wednesday, Beckman said, but they never ventured onto campus.

“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 and speak to us and that's how we handled this situation. We're just following the rules of the NCAA.”

The NCAA allowed Penn State players to transfer immediately after levying severe sanctions on the program Monday. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said he didn't want to restrict Penn State players' options, which is why conference schools are allowed to recruit them.

Delany said he wants Big Ten schools that have interest in Penn State players to notify Nittany Lions athletics director Dave Joyner, not simply an athletic compliance official.

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema and Ohio State's Urban Meyer are among those who won't recruit Penn State's players.

“I'm not casting doubt on anybody, but we made a decision that we would not actively pursue any Penn State players,” Bielema said.

Meyer said he had a “problem” with teams pursuing Penn State players even though they are free to transfer because of the NCAA sanctions.

“A young man has the right to play wherever he wants to play,” said Meyer, who is in his first year at Ohio State. “However, when he's part of a team you're getting into a situation that I'm not very familiar with and we're not going to get very familiar with.”

Mauti said he takes it personally when schools, particularly Big Ten ones, try to recruit Penn State players though he said “that's the game the (NCAA) created.”

“I'm a competitor, and if the people I'm playing against want to try to weaken our stability, then we're going to have a problem,” Mauti said.

Scott Brown is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com.

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