Bob Bowlsby sweats it so we don’t have to.

The Big 12 Commissioner wants to make sure you hear it from him first.

But his most eye-opening comments came in relation to ongoing legal battles about what athletes can receive while playing college sports and the recent effort to allow Northwestern University scholarship football players to unionize — an effort that ended last month when the National Labor Relations Board decided not to accept jurisdiction over petition to let those players organize.

“I’m glad the unionization process has cooled for right now,” Bowlsby said. “But the fact is — and it probably will be in the sport of men’s basketball — there will be a day in the future when the popcorn is popped, the TV cameras are there, the fans are in the stands and the team decides they’re not going to play. Mark my words. We will see that in the years ahead. We saw some of it for other reasons in the ’70s, but I really believe that we aren’t finished with the compensation issue or with the employee-vs.-student issue.”

Wow.  That sounds pretty imminent.  Should we be very worried?

Bowlsby later said he doesn’t think such an action is close to happening, “but the tension in the system isn’t going to go away anytime soon.”

Oh.  Well, it’s a concern, anyway, right?

That point was re-emphasized later in Bowlsby’s presentation when he spoke about a recent visit he made to a college class that happened to include a men’s basketball player. Bowlsby said he ended up asking the player whether he felt like an employee, and the player responded that he did.

Bowlsby said he asked the player why he felt that way, and Bowlsby said the player replied, in part: “My time is not my own. … I don’t have any control over where I go, what I do, how I work out, how long I work out, what I eat, where I eat. … That sounds like an employee to me. … I’m grateful for what I’m getting, but you asked me if I feel like an employee — and I do.”

Bowlsby then added: “I’ve thought about a lot since then and I’m going to ask that question of others as I go around. … In the end, I guess it doesn’t really matter what the courts say about employee status if the student-athletes feel like they’re involved in a situation where they lack control over what it is they can do or can’t do — and Lord knows we’ve got lots of rules that govern them from a grade-point standpoint and from a name, image and likeness standpoint. I probably would have felt differently if I still was on campus, but in listening to student-athletes, in some ways we’re putting them in untenable situations.”

Asked after his presentation whether he was surprised by the athlete’s comments, Bowlsby told USA TODAY Sports: “Yeah, I was surprised. Because of how frank he was. I don’t know that it alters the bottom line for me, but it certainly gives me more to think about.”

So, yeah, sucks for you, but I’m not gonna lose any sleep over it – that’s all you got here, Bob?  Man, that’s a real crisis.

There’s a part of me that thinks he’d be happy if there were a player strike in hopes the public would blame the kids and by extension make folks like Bowlsby look better.  Major league baseball showed that crapping on the product is always a winning marketing strategy.  I’m not surprised that what passes for keen intellect among the people running college sports would think similarly.


Filed under Look For The Union Label, The NCAA

9 responses to “Bob Bowlsby sweats it so we don’t have to.

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    Mediocrity abides.


  2. John Denver is full of shit...

    That’s some Frank Underwood shit right there.


  3. 3rdandGrantham

    “I don’t know if it alters the bottom line for me, but it gives me something to think about.”

    {Wealthy industrial plant owner during The Gilded Age, when asked about the brutally hash working conditions of his emoloyees}


  4. It is incredible that tone deaf Bowlsby had no idea that players viewed their status to be like that of employees until he asked one.
    He, and the rest of the suits with million dollar salaries always think that college sports is about them. College sports are college activities played by college kids. To Bowlsby the students are just cogs in a money printing press.
    Good point, Senator, about baseball. Stupid owners thinking that the fans rooted for them. Stupid owners thinking that press releases about overpaid, greedy players who aren’t worth their salaries would cause the average guy to all of a sudden like watching those same players. Ever see a Toyota ad saying, “The Camry is a lousy value?” That is what MLB did.


    • Cousin Eddie

      Millionaires rolling out press releases about millionaires is one thing but millionaires rolling out press release about guys that don’t make much more than pizza money being greedy that will be funny. Yes tuition and books and room and meals and etc ain’t cheap but there will be plenty of stories on players that have to choose between things of need versus the commissioners and coaches with multi-million dollar contracts. I doubt they win the court of public opinion the way MLB and the NFL did.


  5. Argondawg

    Hey at least he is asking the question and getting an honest response and then airing it out somewhat. That beats the shit out of acting like it doesn’t exist. Its a start.


  6. Cojones

    I’m with Argondawg. Sounds to me like he took his corrected understanding to heart and is viewing the players plight with different eyes. Sounds like he is gradually becoming a proponent.

    Baby steps, folks, baby steps. No need to castigate the guy for past attitude. Talking up front about the subject shows a willingness on his part to look at it frankly in return. That’s good for those who have touted the players’ position all along. Some of us haven’t, but don’t feel pangs of regret. We realize that we just aren’t as wonderfully insightful as some others.

    Remember the old saying: Good things come to those who are waiters. Or something like that.


  7. doofusdawg

    It is my understanding that basketball players can go straight to the NBA if they desire. If the kid wants a job tell him to go apply for one.

    I’m at the point of letting football players go straight to the league as well. Of course the obvious unintended consequence would be the reduction in high school graduation rates to the level of college graduation rates. But hey… the schools are so screwed up anyway and who are we to tell a 17 year old he can’t have real bling.

    I think there are two groups driving this train. A bunch of high and mighty sports broadcasters that feel it necessary to contemplate “bigger” things than reporting on the games. That’s why espn is tanking. It’s also why the Weather Channel is going broke. People want to hear what the weather is going to be… not a lecture about some bogus weather prediction fifty years from now when we all know they can’t tell you what it’s going to be like tomorrow with any degree of certainty. It’s also why nobody reads the AJC anymore… just to make an obvious point. Everybody wants to make a difference I suppose… or has an agenda.

    The other group I am somewhat reluctant to mention. I think that maybe there are a bunch of trial lawyers out there wanting to be sports agents… present company excluded.