Why the Big 12 Commissioner Thinks the Sky Is Falling on the NCAA

To start off the Big 12′s media day, the conference’s commissioner, Bob Bowlsby, gave a State of the Union-styled address that was 45 minutes of dire tidings and ominous fore-tellings about how the NCAA was due for some changes beyond its control. Changes, Bowlsby feels, that are for the worse. He also quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, saying, “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” although he was referring to the new Big 12 branding strategy, rather than the NCAA’s stance on paying its athletes.

With regards to the impending lawsuits circling the NCAA, Bowlsby said he believed “all of that in the end will cause programs to be eliminated. I think you’ll see men’s Olympic sports go away as a result of the new funding challenges that are coming down the pike.” The commissioner, who was the athletic director at Stanford and the University of Iowa prior to his current gig, also made the admission that: ” There’s only so much money out there. I don’t think that coaches and athletic directors are likely going to take pay cuts. I think that train’s left the station.” He also cited labor theory, insofar as the idea that football players shouldn’t deserve to get paid simply because their sport is more visible than others. His conclusion, essentially, was that if not all student-athletes are being paid, then none of them should be.

“I think those that conspire to do things that are intended to get around the rules have less resistance to it now than they’ve gotten very sophisticated,” Bowlsby said moments after saying that he didn’t believe cheating was rampant in the NCAA. “It’s easy to move money around. There are lots of people outside of universities that are handling things and they can’t be compelled to testify even if they get caught.” He would end the question-and-answer segment of the address by saying: “Right now, if you want to cheat, you can do it and you can get away with it. And there are benefits for doing that. And that needs to change.”

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Bowlsby’s concerns about student-athletes making money, cheating going unpunished, and dogs and cats raining from the sky seem fairly square with a man who said, emphatically: “Student athletes are not employees. They should never be employees. It’s not an employee-employer relationship. It’s just it’s a total square peg in a round hole,” before suggesting that a full scholarship (where the actual cost of attending a university is concerned) would fix what ails.

“If you like what you see in intercollegiate athletics right now, you’re going to be disappointed when the change comes, because it’s coming.” Bowlsby said, suggesting that the lawsuits may lead to fewer athletes being offered opportunities to compete at the national collegiate level. “I think that we are going to have to do the best job we can to, as I said earlier, retain the best elements of what we currently have and recognize that maintenance of the status quo is not in the cards.”