SBD/July 23, 2013/Colleges

Big 12 Commissioner Bowlsby Calls For NCAA Reform, But Says Seceding Is Unrealistic

Bowlsby expressed concern about the NCAA's enforcement tactics
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby yesterday at Big 12 media days "stressed the importance of achieving 'transformative change' to the NCAA, its leadership system and its future," according to Max Olson of ESPN.com. Bowlsby said, "I really do think we need to reconfigure the leadership of the organization." Olson notes Bowlsby expressed his "concerns about the effectiveness of NCAA enforcement and the difficulty of advancing real changes to the system." Bowlsby: "It's probably unrealistic to think that we can manage football and field hockey by the same set of rules. I think some kind of reconfiguration of how we govern is in order." Bowlsby added that he "doesn't consider conferences seceding from the NCAA as a realistic possibility." Bowlsby: "I have not heard from a single commissioner or even athletic directors on an individual basis that believe another organization other than the NCAA is the right approach for us" (ESPN.com, 7/22). Bowlsby said that commissioners of the "Big Five conferences met about six weeks ago to discuss their concerns." He added that the commissioners "were 'unanimous' in their desires for drastic changes to the NCAA structure." Bowlsby: "I don't see secession from the NCAA as a viable leverage point, except as a last resort." ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach wrote the "future of the NCAA and how major college football is structured seems more fragile than ever" (ESPN.com 7/22).

TRIAL SEPARATION? USA TODAY's Schroeder & Wolken write, "Secession from the NCAA isn't on the way -- but separation within the NCAA is a strong possibility." Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott yesterday said, "It's fair to say there is concern about the governance right now and some of the processes. People are engaged, and I think it's a good thing. We're hoping for positive reform within the system." A new subdivision consisting "solely of the largest -- and wealthiest -- schools would undoubtedly invite scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service." If a new subdivision "covered only football, it is unclear how the organization's tax-exempt status would be affected" (USA TODAY, 7/23). CBSSPORTS.com's Dennis Dodd wrote the "gravity of the situation" surrounding the big conferences and the NCAA "hit home when a conservative administrator ... was the one to finally give voice to the upheaval we'd been hearing about for months." The "look and feel of the sport will never be the same." Dodd: "Get ready, then, for Division 4, where those BCS schools (Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, ACC, SEC) are going to set their own rules." The commissioners are using the "gummed-up NCAA legislative process as an excuse, but really this about them making their own rules so they spend their own money the way they see fit" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/22). In Dallas, Chuck Carlton writes, "Ready or not, the NCAA is going to have to alter the way it operates." In a "straight-forward, blunt breakdown of the national governing body for college athletics, Bowlsby said the status quo is no longer viable." D-I is "too cluttered." Meaningful legislation "gets stalled or picked apart." A "one-size-fits-all model is unworkable" when D-I athletic department budgets range from $3-160M (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 7/23). In Oklahoma City, Berry Tramel notes Bowlsby “doesn’t claim to have a solution.” Bowlsby said that he “hasn’t even drawn up a model for what is being called Division IV” (OKLAHOMAN, 7/23).

LOUD & CLEAR: SI.com's Andy Staples writes Bowlsby "may be the newest commissioner in the five megabucks conferences, but he served notice Monday that he will not be the quietest." Bowlsby called for change "boldly, directly and without prompting." He "went after the programs that have jumped to Division I thinking the move will automatically raise the profile of their entire universities, soaking taxpayers and bilking students with high athletics fees in the process." Bowlsby: "I think we've permitted or even sometimes encouraged institutional social climbing by virtue of their athletics programs. And I think the fact is we've made it too easy to get into Division I and too easy to stay there." Bowlsby also "ripped the NCAA's enforcement strategy, which has been largely ineffective." Bowlsby was "not the first to point out the need for major changes," but he "said it the loudest and in the plainest language possible" (SI.com, 7/23). In N.Y., Lenn Robbins writes Bowlsby, one of the "smartest guys in any room when it comes to NCAA matters, yesterday spoke the most articulate -- and frightening -- words we’ve heard this summer on the future of college sports" (N.Y. POST, 7/23). In San Antonio, Tim Griffin writes Bowlsby made the "most forceful argument to date about the need for a massive upheaval in the embattled NCAA" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 7/23).

MONEY BALL: CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto wrote, "This is the latest, and largest, incremental step in the big schools’ plan to ditch those beneath them, which has always been the goal of the big schools. More money, and fewer hands." The NCAA, whose "power resides in the handling of the money, is now looking at a future in which it holds sway over the schools who don’t generate it" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 7/22). ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel writes the problem is the BCS by "drawing a line between the haves (AQs) and have-nots (non-AQs) set in motion the realignment that rocked intercollegiate athletics." Maisel: "If the haves separate themselves into a Division IV, will they dare set membership requirements high enough to keep the have-nots at bay? Promise them a slice of the pie to stay out?" (ESPN.com, 7/23).

TYING UP LOOSE ENDS: ESPN.com's David Ubben noted the Big 12 yesterday unveiled a new logo (ESPN.com, 7/22)....In Ft. Worth, Stevenson & Brown noted Big 12 players in the upcoming season will be "outfitted with computer chips in their shoulder pads to monitor velocity and impact" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 7/22)....Big 12 stadiums will "show highlights from other games, including some in real time, during television timeouts." Bowlsby said that the move is "a reaction to declining attendance across the country as people stay home to watch more games on television rather than a single contest in person." He added that Big 12 stadiums "have been about 85 percent full" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 7/23).

DOWN TOBACCO ROAD
: ESPN.com's Heather Dinich wrote there was "an overriding sense of solidarity at the ACC Football Kickoff, a reflection of the confidence within the league moving forward with its new membership." The ACC over the past two years has "quietly put itself in position to enter the 2013 season as strong as it’s ever been -- not necessarily on the field, but collectively off it." The conference has "made all the right moves to remain a power conference" (ESPN.com, 7/22). In Virginia, David Teel notes ACC Commissioner John Swofford mentioned his “rampant dissatisfaction with the NCAA’s governing structure.” Swofford: “My view is that presidential control and oversight is entirely appropriate and necessary. But I think it needs to be at the highest level and related to the most fundamental aspects of what the enterprise is all about” (Hampton Roads DAILY PRESS, 7/23).
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