Aug. 25, 2012
To have K-State Sports Extra delivered to your inbox each morning, click here.
By Mark Janssen
Bob Bowlsby was on a “familiarity” tour of Big 12 Conference campuses this past week with stops at Iowa State, Kansas, and, on Friday, at Kansas State.
“There is no stated agenda other than an opportunity for me to get to know them, and them to get to know me,” said Bowlsby, who was appointed Big 12 Commissioner this past May.
Although it found itself in the middle of conference realignment the last two years, today Bowlsby says of the Big 12, “I’m as bullish as you can be. I think we are going to do a lot of great things ahead, and that’s going to start this year.”
Of the collection of presidents and athletic directors, Bowlsby, who was formerly the AD at Stanford, said, “I am confident in saying that I think it’s a strong, stable, forward-looking group.”
He did add, “Do we have issues to resolve? Certainly, and we always will. Will we have honest disagreements? There’s not any question about it. Are we going to move forward in ways that look like a marriage rather than just living together? We definitely will be doing it.”
In looking specifically about Kansas State University and the leadership provided by President Kirk Schulz and athletics director John Currie, Bowlsby said of the Wildcat landscape: “This area has a look of significant prosperity and significant vision.”
Bowlsby indicated that an announcement could come soon on a crucial television deal that would cover 13 years.
“The exposure of our football programs, men’s and women’s basketball, and our Olympic sports will be unprecedented,” said Bowlsby, who also added that a television partner for the Champions Bowl – Big 12 vs. Southeastern Conference – could come soon.
Here are some other points that Bowlsby made during a Q and A session while on the campuses this week.
CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT IS THE STORY OF THE LAST YEAR-PLUS. WHAT DO YOU FORSEE BEING THE NEXT STORY OF SIGNIFICANCE IN INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS?
Bowlsby: First, the last thing I would say is that there will not be any more conference realignment. But in all frankness, I have heard more conversation in the last 18 months about whether or not major athletics programs need to have some other organization than the NCAA. I haven’t heard anyone say what they thought it should be, or how to put it together, or what the rules would be, but I’ve just heard more statements of discontent over the last 18 months to two years than ever before in my career.
There are 1,200 member schools that are not very homogenous. There’s discomfort out there. It would only take a couple more conference realignment moves to start another domino effect. I wouldn’t predict that, but I also wouldn’t reject it, either.
THE ADDITION OF MORE TEAMS TO THE CURRENT 10-MEMBER FAMILY OF THE BIG 12 CONFERENCE … WHERE DOES THAT STAND?
Bowlsby: We’re pretty happy with 10. I think there ought to be a high bar set in reference to conference membership. There is conversation of affiliate membership in some individual sports, and I’m sure that league composition will be on our agenda for every meeting. But I think this should be a very difficult fraternity to get into. We have something that is very good.
If we move ahead at some point in time with expansion, it will only come after it’s very well thought out process, and only for the purpose of being a school that is compatible with the league and a school that would bring great value.
But we have no strategy for expansion. We will have discussions, but that doesn’t mean we’ll decide that we need more members. We will never expand other than to benefit us.
DID REALIGNMENT COME AS A SURPRISE TO YOU?
Bowlsby: It continues to be very surprising to me that institutions made major decisions, based mostly on athletic criteria, as quickly as they did. Some of them will go down as colossal mistakes down the road.
YOUR BASIC VIEW OF THE BIG 12 CONFERENCE TODAY IS…?
Bowlsby: The private reality is that we’re much more stable and much stronger than the public perception is. I think we’re still recovering from some of the tumultuous times over the last two years. We’re still moving in the direction that we’d like to eventually reside, but I feel very good about the reality of the conference.
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen or Kansas State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.