Bob Bowlsby, champion of the little guy

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?

About as far as you’d think.

“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.


Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

16 responses to “Bob Bowlsby, champion of the little guy

  1. Ausdawg85

    Ok. I get it. This is all a big ESPN version of “Punked” that will be unveiled on all CFB fans on the opening segment of College GameDay. They had me going until these comments by Bowlsby. They’re just too absurd to be real.

    C’mon Ashton…where are you?


  2. Boy – I’m sure the ditch diggers of the world would love to get paid based on their effort and not what the marketplace has determined their services to be worth. This economic fantasy land these guys live in to defend their model is pretty amusing.


  3. Krautdawg

    Reworked that quote for you:

    “It is hard to justify paying [conference commissioners] and not recognizing the significant effort that [athletes] all put in,” he said. “[Conference commissioners] don’t work any harder than [athletes]; they just happen to have the blessing of [a cartel] who is willing to pay for [conference commissioners] and willing to [sell] the [athletes] on television that come with the high visibility.”

    That seems closer to what he wanted to say.


  4. Cosmic Dawg

    Nice catch, Senator.


  5. DawgPhan

    These are comments he made at media day to the media. This isnt his Mitt Romney donor dinner 57% takers hidden camera comments. Wonder what he really think about student athletes.



    Anyone who does not believe they are already getting paid has not had to fork over tuition payments out of their own pocket for themselves or their kids. All this recent angst over students coming out of college with HUGE student loan debt, is that just fantasy. Anyone on full scholarship will NEVER have these worries. One side or the other of this equation is delusional. Either student debt is no real problem because it does not amount to much, or these full scholarship athletes are delusional because they feel they are not receiving anything of real value when it actuality it is worth a lot of money. Both sides can’t be right.

    This from a recent article
    Today, the costs to attend an elite
    private college run nearly $40,000 a year, the
    average private school around $27,000, and public
    institutions around $13,000 according to figures
    from the College Board.

    These figures are a couple of years old, so with inflation, this is only going to increase.


    • DawgPhan

      Except that Prothro just testified in court that he graduated with $10k in student loans.

      Secondly, if the students are being paid via scholarship, then they are really just negotiating their salary and I don’t think that anyone wants to deny an employee the opportunity to negotiate their salary.


    • Monday Night Frotteur

      Agreed that revenue athletes are getting paid now and aren’t amateurs. The problem is, that pay is capped substantially below what they’d get in an open market because of an anti-competitive agreement between employers.


      • TEXAS DAWG

        But if they are “truly union” then a collective bargaining agreement would cover all tailbacks at X dollars with increasing scale with seniority. Y dollars for a Linebacker and so on. If it ever comes to that, colleges would NEVER agree to a Pro Sports type union where every “employee” negotiates a salary. It would have to be like GM where each trade (position) is given a dollar value with increasing salary with seniority, not on how good you are at the job. There would have to be regional adjustments due to cost of living, but PRAY it never comes to this.


    • Sh3rl0ck

      That’s just tuition. You have to add in room, board, books, tutoring, personal training, nutritional counciling, coaching, etc.

      I understand the royalty-free image / likeness license the schools and the NCAA get, but what I have never been able to understand is why the kids don’t maintain likeness rights for non-football related items. I understand why the NCAA / school’s want it that way, but I would have thought there would have been a lawsuit about that years ago.

      I can understand licensing their rights to EA Sports for the NCAA game without royalty… but, how can you call a college kid doing a TV commercial for the local sandwich shop or signing autographs at a car dealership “professionalism”? (yes, that is a rhetorical question)


  7. reipar

    I believe he is right about one thing. It is the other programs that are going to pay the price for the coming changes. No one is going to want to risk harming the golden goose in any manner when they do not have to do so.

    It will be interesting to see what the schools that want to play football, basketball , and another sport end up doing. For example I cannot see LSU doing anything to harm their baseball team. I would guess the cuts that other programs make to their baseball teams LSU will pass on to other programs making their cuts deeper than to their counterparts at other schools. We might see competitive balance shift in some of the Olympic sports from the traditional powers to some of the lesser schools.


  8. South FL Dawg

    I’d like to see the athletic budget by sport.

    However much it costs to sponsor the non revenue sportss, would it even be enough to cover the changes that are coming? Or wouldn’t it be easiee to swap out the pricey athletic administrative types for some that would work for less?


  9. Dog in Fla

    Bob the Fiesta Bowlsby never ends and Steve Patterson remind me of the other type of comedy team that used to be Joe Barton and Mark Shurtleff



    Because of Title IX rules, regulations, and the threat of lawsuits for gender discrimination, any changes that involve pay are going to be very complicated. My guess is that revenue sports like football, and basketball would have to be spun off as something other than the traditional athletic department. Possibly a separate corporation or sports league that was owned by the university(s) but run as a stand alone business.
    Could you imagine the argument in court under Title IX where the women’s basketball center was paid $X while the men’s basketball center was paid $XX.


    • James

      “Could you imagine the argument in court under Title IX where the women’s basketball center was paid $X while the men’s basketball center was paid $XX.”

      Can you imagine an argument in court that the CEO of your local pizza place should be paid the same at the CES of Exon? Same position, right?