The Big 12 Commissioner, we are told, “came to the defense of the collegiate model” at Big 12 media days Monday. It was a touching performance.
… He argued against the unionization of college athletes, noting that in his opinion, “student-athletes are not employees.” He also said it wouldn’t be fair to pay football players but not female student-athletes and student-athletes in sports other than football and men’s basketball.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Touching, but totally divorced from economic reality. Those lucky duck football and basketball players simply fortunate enough to be blessed with the scarce skills that the market place demands, why should they be rewarded for that? If everyone in this world were paid according to effort, I doubt Bob himself would be pulling in the big bucks he’s getting paid right now… speaking of which, exactly how far do those legal and moral obligations stretch?
“In the end,” he said, “it’s a somewhat zero-sum game. There’s only so much money out there. I don’t think that coaches and athletic directors are likely going to take pay cuts.[Emphasis added.] I think that train’s left the station. … I think over a period of time what we’ll find is that instead of keeping a tennis program, they’re going to do the things that it takes to keep the football and men’s and women’s basketball programs strong.”
Obligations are for the little guy – straight out of the 21st-century captains of industry playbook. There’s your collegiate model. And remember, Bowlsby doesn’t think this is even debatable. No wonder he expects to be in court the rest of his career.