Commissioner Bob Bowlsby didn’t shy away from the truth during his State of the Big 12 Address Monday.
“Change is coming,” Bowlsby said. “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 addressed several issues at Big 12 media days including payment of players, involvement in lawsuits and cheating in college athletics. It was a stark address as Bowlsby was up front about all the challenges facing the Big 12 and collegiate athletics.
One of the biggest issues at hand is the payment of players. Bowlsby made it very clear that athletes are not employees of their respective universities and should not be able to unionize.
“Student-athletes are not employees,” Bowlsby said. “They should never be employees. It’s not an employee/employer relationship. It’s a total square peg in a round hole.”
Bowlsby said that the current lawsuits facing college athletics will cause universities to change the way they handle student scholarships.
“In the end, it’s a somewhat zero-sum game,” Bowlsby said. “There’s only so much money out there…so therefore the cost is higher.”
The rising costs may cause schools to cut back on program. Bowlsby also said that cuts in funds will result in the end of some Olympic sports.
On top of rising costs, Bowlsby addressed those who are cutting corners and finding ways to cheat.
“I think it’s not an understatement to say that cheating pays presently,” Bowlsby said. “If you want to cheat, you can do it and you can get away with it. And there are benefits for doing that.”
Bowlsby said that the NCAA and the five-power conferences must find a way to better prevent cheating. But Bowlsby made sure to say cheating isn’t a rampant issue and most people involved in college athletics are acting with high integrity.
Despite his melancholy address, Bowlsby said that the conference is in great shape heading into the 2014 season.
“We will go through the football season with unprecedented exposure for our football teams,” he said. “And we will have a period of time of lots of good excitement, lots of good competition, lots of fair competition.”