DALLAS — Don’t ever accuse Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby of not being candid. During his annual press conference with the Big 12’s media on Monday morning at the Dallas Omni Hotel, as he did a year ago, the mild-mannered Bowlsby made news.
“I think it’s not an understatement to say that cheating pays presently,” Bowlsby said.
Whoa. Come again?
“If you seek to conspire to certainly bend the rules, you can do it successfully and probably not get caught in most occasions.”
Following up, Bowlsby was asked if he believes this behavior is “rampant.”
“No, I don’t think it’s rampant, I don’t think that at all,” Bowlsby said. “I think our coaches and programs are of high integrity, and I don’t have any concerns on a local basis. I don’t think it’s cut rate out there, but I think those that conspire to do things that are intended to get around the rules have less resistance to it now than they ‑‑ they’ve gotten very sophisticated. It’s easy to move money around. There are lots of people outside of universities that are handling things and they can’t be compelled to testify even if they get caught.”
Even if the cheating isn’t rampant, the Big 12’s acting commissioner wouldn’t have murmured this eye-popping quote if it isn’t a major issue in the eye of the Big 5 conferences in college athletics.
“I think the vast majority of people in intercollegiate athletics are of high integrity, they’re doing it for the right reasons,” Bowlsby said. “But right now, if you want to cheat, you can do it and you can get away with it. And there are benefits for doing that. And that needs to change.”
Perhaps the most important quote of the day: "If we can’t come to resolution that is satisfactory on enforcement and on transfers, then those become autonomous items about which the five high‑visibility conferences can go our own way and devise our own system."
Consider this just one of the major issues in college athletics going forward but because of the dynamics behind the problem, it is one that will rightfully garner a load of attention. Change is coming and the way that enforcement is handled will likely be a key part of that.