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updated: 7/26/2012 8:42 PM

Illini would welcome Penn State transfers

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By Caitlin Swieca

In the wake of Monday's NCAA sanctions allowing Penn State University football players to transfer immediately, every coach in the Big Ten was asked Thursday at the conference media day if he would pursue Nittany Lions players.

None was as upfront about the issue as Illinois head coach Tim Beckman, who addressed the issue as part of his opening statement.

"It was brought to our attention by two individuals, prior to even any sanctions being granted by the NCAA, that an opportunity might present itself for a transfer," Beckman said.

"We did not go onto their campus. We only talked to individuals that would be willing to meet with us. We did not go after them. They had the opportunity to come to us if they would like to come to us and speak to us."

Beckman's statement came a day after ESPN reported that Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien saw a group of Illini coaches at a State College airport this week.

Beckman said his coaches never went onto the Penn State campus, but met with some players at off-campus establishments to discuss the possibility of transferring.

He also said that Illinois provided Penn State with the names of players they were interested in.

He told a group of reporters after the news conference that the team sent eight coaches to Penn State -- but Beckman has not been to State College.

"I didn't want it to be a big scene or anything like that," Beckman said.

"Everything that we've done has been NCAA-compliant. Penn State knew."

Beckman and Purdue coach Danny Hope were the only coaches to say Thursday that they would recruit Penn State players.

Earlier in the week, O'Brien said that Iowa's Kirk Ferentz had contacted him to let him know about Penn State players he was recruiting.

Every other coach in the conference said he would not recruit Penn State players or would only consider it if a player came directly to the coach.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald would in "no way, shape or form" recruit Penn State players.

It was announced Monday that Penn State players would be able to transfer schools immediately without any loss of eligibility after sanctions were placed on the football program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.

The presidents of the conference unanimously voted to allow Penn State players to transfer to other Big Ten schools, commissioner Jim Delany said.

Delany said he addressed the issue of transfers with the coaches that morning, but did not have an individual conversation with Beckman.

"We're trying to put an overlay on this that allows the athlete as much opportunity as the rules allow that allows for collegial relationships between our schools," Delany said. "I think it should be focused. If there's an opportunity there for a school and a player, that's great. If not, they should move on."

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