Any remaining faith in the NCAA power structure and rules enforcement system may be shaken to the core in light of Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby's bold remarks from a Monday press conference at Big 12 media days.
ESPN.com's Jake Trotter reported what Bowlsby had to say regarding the NCAA, including the notion that "cheating pays" in his state-of-the-league address:
Enforcement is broken. The infractions committee hasn't had [an FBS] hearing in almost a year, and I think it's not an understatement to say cheating pays presently. If you seek to conspire to certainly bend the rules, you can do it successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions.
As for student-athletes seeking unionization and financial compensation for their services to their schools, Bowlsby outlined how problematic and sports-specific discriminatory that could become:
It is hard to justify paying student-athletes in football and men's basketball and not recognizing the significant effort that swimmers and wrestlers and lacrosse players and track athletes all put in. Football and basketball players don't work any harder than anybody else; they just happen to have the blessing of an adoring public who is willing to pay for the tickets and willing to buy the products on television that come with the high visibility.
We have both a legal obligation and a moral obligation to do for female student-athletes and male Olympic sports athletes just exactly what we do for football and basketball student-athletes. I don't think it's even debatable.
Anwar Richardson of Rivals.com documented another key part of Bowlsby's presser:
Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples weighed in on what Bowlsby had to say:
Joe Schad of ESPN expressed concern about Bowlsby's ominous words:
ESPN's Robert Flores hinted at some of the hypocrisy that comes with power-conference representatives speaking out for student-athletes while benefiting greatly from media revenue:
Bowlsby's comments are sure to spark conversation and debate in the context of major college programs thriving without cutting corners or violating NCAA regulations. The consequences of those actions often come at the ultimate expense of the student-athletes.
When someone as high up as a power-conference commissioner acknowledges such a topic the way Bowlsby has, it is going to garner attention.
The issues that plague the NCAA and its competition in the top sports are complex. There could be some resolution in the coming years before the violations get too out of hand to the point where fans—and prospective student-athletes—may begin to lose interest.