Not great, Bob.
The classic line from Pete Campbell in AMC’s Mad Men provides the most succinct take on Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby’s Monday morning comments in Dallas to kick off the conference’s Media Days, as the fifth-year leader contradicted himself when discussing the ongoing Baylor scandal and generally seemed underprepared to address those questions, though he did indicate that the conference could take action against the Bears.
Bowlsby addressed the situation in Waco in his opening comments before fielding a question about it immediately as soon as he was finished with his initial thoughts.
Noting that the conference doesn’t have any legal standing to take action against Baylor, Bowlsby did characterize the conference as “deeply concerned about the associational aspects” of the scandal,” a thought that he reiterated later in the press conference.
Then things went off the tracks.
“But let it suffice to say as it pertains to all of our institutions, we are very committed as a group of ten schools to eradicating sexual assault on our campuses,” Bowlsby said. “It almost goes without saying that when you combine alcohol and drugs and raging hormones and the experiences of 18-22 years old, it's probably unrealistic to think that these kinds of things are never going to happen.”
But let it suffice to say as it pertains to rape, “the only thing required for a rape to happen is a rapist,” as USA TODAY Sports writer Nicole Auerbach so aptly noted.
In late June, the conference issued a strongly-worded statement reiterating a request for “full accounting” from Baylor about the scandal. On Monday, Bowlsby called the Bears “forthcoming” about those issues, but then claimed that he was misquoted when he was asked if forthcoming means that Baylor had turned over all the information requested and confirmed that there is no written report from Pepper Hamilton.
On Tuesday, the Big 12 Board of Directors will hold a call and Baylor will have to field questions at that time.
Then, after he was asked whether he knows more than than the public, Bowlsby said that he does before claiming that he doesn’t know anything more than the public about Baylor assistants Kendal Briles, Phil Bennett, and Jeff Lebby regarding their continued retention on the staff in Waco and any possible wrongdoing by those coaches.
Not great, Bob.
However, to his credit, Bowlsby has pressed Baylor about the frequency of these types of issues at the school.
“I have also asked the question about how do we ensure that we're not going to have other incidents, because we have had some incidents in the past,” he said. “There was an academic scandal in the late 90s and then there was the basketball situation shortly after the -- well, 2004 or 2005. So from a governance standpoint, how do we ensure that these kinds of things or other things that would be inappropriate? How are we going to ensure that the governance is in place to make sure they don't happen again?”
Those questions are certainly important for Baylor as an institution and for the conference as a whole moving forward and there aren’t any easy answers there.
The answer might be for the conference to take action, as Bowlsby revealed that there are members of the Big 12 Board of Directors who believe that Baylor has “sullied” the league’s reputation.
That could be key because if there is a supermajority decision that Baylor has shown a lack of institutional control by causing harm to the conference, it would be able to impose sanctions.
“We have to be satisfied that their program is being operated in consistency with Title IX and institutional control and that governance processes are in place to avoid future incidents ... Institutional control is very much in the middle of this conversation,” Bowlsby said during the breakout session. “It will be from the NCAA and it will be from the Big 12.”
So that comment seems to confirm that sanctions against the Bears are indeed possible.
“When one member's reputation is damaged, I think all of our images are damaged,” Bowlsby had said earlier.
Unfortunately, it appears that things didn’t improve much during the breakout session that occurred immediately after Bowlsby’s televised comments:
And the afterparty didn't go much better than the main gig. https://t.co/vXWIZOGJq7— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) July 18, 2016
Not great, Bob.
Title game decisions looming
In 2017, the Big 12 will once again hold a conference championship, but now have to determine the process of selecting the top two teams in a league that already plays a round-robin schedule.
Bowlsby isn’t quite sure how that will happen, but he expects that the conference will form two different divisions and select the winners of those divisions to play at a neutral site.
By November, the commissioner wants answers to the questions of divisional set up and host sites and dates. The most difficult decision will be in regards to divisions.
“We've talked about a number of different ways,” Bowlsby said. “We've talked about an equity base that would on a rotational basis be responsive to how teams are finishing in the overall standings. There has been some talk about staying with one division and going, you know, that route. I sense less enthusiasm for that. I think we could do a geographic designation of some sort.”
However, the Big 12 does want to avoid late-season match ups. Bowlsby noted that Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would have met in the championship game despite just playing the Bedlam match up. So the conference doesn’t want to have that happen in the future, but it may be difficult to entirely avoid, especially if the conference opts for geographic divisions.
Replay changes instated
For the first time, the conference will have access to all televised angles for replay in addition to multi-capture video systems that will provide angles from every vantage point in the stadium.