BIG 12 Commissioner Wants Changes in NCAA

Bob Bowlsby is used to working in volatile environments.

As a former athletic director for Stanford University and the University of Iowa, he has found success in controlling and organizing athletes at school that expect success. Now, as the commissioner of the Big 12 Athletic Conference, he’s now under an even bigger spotlight than before.

At a National Press Club luncheon on September 21st, Bowlsby discussed why, not only himself, but all of college sports and the NCAA is under some scrutiny.

“There are some things that I’m not really proud of, and I don’t think anybody else should be either,” Bowlsby explained. “This (the NCAA) is an infinitely more complex environment than the NFL, the NBA, or Major League Baseball.”

In his speech, Bowlsby reiterated how difficult it can be for the NCAA to manage almost 1,200 schools that have athletic programs, with 350 of them being in division one.

One such aspect of college athletics that has been difficult to manage is the threat oif gambling. Bowlsby stresses that it’s vital to be able to tell the differences between college and professional athletics, and it starts with betting money.

“If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and talks like a duck, pretty soon it’s going to be hard to say that it’s not a duck,” symbolized the commissioner.

Another hot button issue surrounding college sports within the past decade or so has been the question of whether or not student athletes should be paid more than just their scholarship and their room, board, food, and tuition. Bowlsby says that there has been significant progress in discussions with the NCAA and the United States court system concerning additional pay. While the talks haven’t progressed as quickly as Bowlsby would like, he’s excited about how close they are to a final decision.

Perhaps the biggest topic of the night that Bowlsby discussed was the increasing problem of performance enhancing drugs, or PEDs. PEDs was not in his original speech, but he was asked after his speech was done what the NCAA was planning on doing with the problem of the increasing frequency of drugs.

“We need to start doing more (about PEDs),” said Bowlsby, “I don’t think we do as much as the governing bodies in our Olympic program, and I think we could probably do better.”

Bowlsby admits there is too much variance in how the NCAA handles drug testing among athletes, and that it needs to get tightened up soon. According to the commissioner, there’s only random drug testing among a small amount of athletes per conference, and that those tests are ran by those specific conference. There isn’t a unified NCAA testing program. Bowlsby is working hard with the NCAA to change that.

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