From the Houston Chronicle, here’s a blog post that summarizes some comments made by Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby in Austin Tuesday. And here’s about a column that expands on those comments.
AUSTIN — Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Tuesday he believes “calmer heads are prevailing” in the world of major college conference realignment, and insisted his league feels no pressure to expand beyond its current 10-school alignment.
“No one has proven to me larger is better,” Bowlsby said.
Bowlsby, who joined former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe on a panel speaking to about 200 students at Texas’ college of communications Tuesday, said the Big 12 continues to believe that its small size is a strength. He said he expects his league to pay about as much to its members as the Southeastern Conference, even after the SEC’s lucrative network partnership with ESPN takes effect.
“We’re not at 10 by default,” Bowlsby said. “We’re at 10 by choice. I think until we’re persuaded to do otherwise, that’s where we’ll continue to stay.”
Among other issues Bowlsby and Beebe discussed Tuesday:
Beebe, who was replaced as Big 12 commissioner as part of the fallout from Texas A&M and Missouri leaving the league, said it was a “validation” that the conference’s schools later agreed to a grant of rights, which he’d advocated all along. “I feel like the conference was driving over a cliff, and they turned the bus around and ran me over.”
Bowlsby said providing student-athletes with a “cost of attendance” stipend of about $2,000 per year is worth considering, but disputes the idea that football players should receive more because their sport generates the vast majority of athletic departments’ revenue. “Football players don’t work harder than swimmers do,” Bowlsby said. “Track athletes work as hard as basketball players.”
Bowlsby also was blunt about his hesitance to pay athletes any more than the cost of attendance. “There’s a place you can go to be paid to play. There are a lot of places. If that’s you’re motivation, you should do it.”
Earlier this year, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany made headlines when he said the Ed O’Bannon antitrust lawsuit - in which players are asking for a portion of revenue generated by TV contracts and video games - could wreck college athletics to a point in which major programs could be forced to play Division III football. Bowlsby rolled his eyes at that sentiment, and said the worst-case outcome for the NCAA wouldn’t be that bad. “Would it change the way we do business? Yes,” Bowlsby said. “Does it create an Armageddon situation? I’m not sure it does.”
Bowlsby, who’s working with other commissioners on ironing out plans for college football’s new four-team playoff, said he doesn’t want it to be over-commercialized. “We want it to be more like the Masters than NASCAR,” Bowlsby said.
Bowlsby said conferences should be wary about trying to poach schools from conferences like the Big East and the ACC, calling realignment a “zero-sum game.” “Engulf and devour doesn’t work,” he said.