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Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby Isn't Just Talking About Cheating

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Everyone seemed to hang on Bob Bowlsby's opening remarks about how it pays to cheat, but I don't think that's all he was talking about.

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In Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby's opening remarks, he made multiple comments about how cheating pays (PDF). That was the catch phrase, "cheating pays," that everyone pretty much ran with and taking Bowlsby for what he's saying at face value, I think that he is certainly saying what he means. In some instances, cheating does pay I suppose.

But I think that Bowlsby's comments were more about the governing body of the NCAA and the lack of ability to enforce those rules as being the problem. That the governing body of college athletics had lost it's teeth along the way. Without enforcement, there's really no need, at least in terms of football, for the NCAA. As some of you figured out last week, the NCAA does own the NCAA Tournament, but the conferences and the teams negotiate their owns deals with television provides, while the bowls and the new championship playoffs negotiate their own deals. It's the reason why the bowl leadership can be subject to bribes and things like that. They're getting paid too.

In doing that, I think it's also a good time to re-evaluate what our core purposes are, why does it exist, what is it doing for people and to people and how can we go about sharpening our focus and making sure that we're spending where there's appropriate return on investment and where the membership needs to have that investment. -Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby

So Bowlsby sees that the NCAA cant enforce the rules they once did and that's problematic for a conference commissioner. I've thought that the Big Five conferences aren't just heading for autonomy in the sense they can will be able to act without the other smaller schools and conferences, but autonomy from the NCAA to govern them as conferences. Really, I think we're heading towards a scenario where the NCAA and the conferences enter into a joint venture agreement to run the basketball tournament. That's my expectations of the NCAA in 10 years.

Bowlsby makes it clear that he's not sure where things will go.

So I think that we all need to take a deep breath and think about just exactly what it is. I don't know that it is entirely clear how Judge Wilken in the O'Bannon case will rule. I've talked to an awful lot of people that are legal experts on these sorts of issues, and I haven't had yet to find anybody who can handicap how that's going to turn out. They really don't know.

Underneath all of this other activity, the governance restructuring, the system is unresponsive. And I think if we get the changes I mentioned earlier, we'll do well.

It may be viewed as self-serving to have a structure that favors the five high-visibility conferences. But the fact is we have some challenges at our level that other institutions in Division I don't have. And this system, as much as it may create additional separation among the 350 schools, we have undertaken at all levels the belief of the bedrock in all this is everybody gets to share the Division I brand, everybody gets access to the championships, everybody gets access to the revenue sharing and we get some prerogatives that will allow us to better manage and to better meet the needs of student-athletes, whatever those things may be.

You will notice in the most recent version of the report, as well as in predecessor versions, that the issue of enforcement is virtually moot in the report. I think the steering committee had enough on its plate that it didn't take it on in any sort of substantive way, but enforcement is broken. The infractions committee hasn't had a hearing in almost a year, and I think it's not an understatement to say that cheating pays presently.

That was the money statement at the end, but there, Bowlsby lays the groundwork for what I think he expects. Without enforcement, the NCAA has little use for the Big Five conferences.

Bowlsby isn't done criticizing the NCAA, again, it's an enforcement issue.

If we can't come to resolution that is satisfactory on enforcement and on transfers, then those become autonomous items about which the five high-visibility conferences can go our own way and devise our own system.

So I think that that will create an imperative for us that should be there and will be there. And I think we'll probably get a reasonable outcome on it.

Now that we're done with enforcement, let's get to the financial viability of the NCAA, which Bowlsby thinks is headed to "financial difficulty" and probably rightfully believes that.

The other challenge that we're facing, the NCAA is currently headed down a path of significant financial difficulty. The lines of trend between the expenses and the finance and the revenue are going to cross in a negative way in the not too distant future.

The revenues from NCAA television packages mostly is going up about two and a half percent a year and expenses are going up about four and a half percent a year.

When those lines cross, they're going to stay crossed for a while, and so we need to get busy and anticipate how we run the organization, how we get back to the core values of the organization and how we make sure that we put in place a system that will allow it to be self-funding going forward.

Anyone else feel like you're watching an attorney establish their case.

It's about to be quite different than anything that you've ever seen. I think the Big Five commissioners aren't just laying a groundwork for conference autonomy within the NCAA, but riding themselves of the NCAA and their ability to change rules, make adjustments and fix things on the fly. The Big Five conferences trusted the NCAA on pretty much every aspect. They flew together, but it is becoming painfully obvious that the NCAA is not the organization they all thought would be able to help govern the conferences and guide them (You know, the incredibly bad advice to make money off of the player likenesses for a decade and think that there's nothing wrong with that.)

It's time to re-evaluate folks.  Read these words carefully.  Bowlsby's done with the NCAA.

In doing that, I think it's also a good time to re-evaluate what our core purposes are, why does it exist, what is it doing for people and to people and how can we go about sharpening our focus and making sure that we're spending where there's appropriate return on investment and where the membership needs to have that investment.