DALLAS –If change is coming soon to college sports, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby appears determined to ensure that his conference is not sitting idly on the sidelines.
On the opening morning of Big 12 Media Days on Monday, Bowlsby delivered a systematic attack on the current NCAA system and structure, a measured blast at the NCAA, its legislative ways and the issues that continue to plague college sports.
Bowlsby went as far as to hint at the possibility of a separate division for college football and said that his views were consistent with the four other commissioners of BCS conferences.
“I think we all have a sense that transformative change has to happen,” Bowlsby said.
At a time when the NCAA is under siege from several directions, particularly in terms of leadership and enforcement, it was perhaps the most direct call for action yet from someone in such a position of influence and might later be seen as a pivotal moment in the transition to meaningful change.
“I really do think we need to reconfigure the leadership of the organization,” Bowlsby said of the NCAA. “I don’t think we can at this point in time move forward, and we certainly haven’t been able to configure an agenda that made the changes we need.”
Advocating a movement toward “federation” under the NCAA umbrella based on size, scope, “equity brought into the system” and even by sport, Bowlsby stopped short of calling for a breakaway from the governing organization but added, “I don’t see secession as a legitimate point of leverage except as a last resort.”
While Bowlsby advocated for change, ACC commissioner John Swofford offered a similar position to USA Today, saying that the five major conferences could form a “super division” within the BCS, as soon as 2014.
Bowlsby’s critique of the NCAA was just the most hot-button idea in a state-of-the-union speech that appeared to position the Big 12 in a powerful, proactive position.