Bowlsby, the seventh commissioner in Big 12 history, ranks among the more respected leaders in the NCAA after stints as Athletic Director at Northern Iowa, Iowa and Stanford and the head of the NCAA Basketball Selection Committee in 2006. He was also a part of the U.S. Olympic Committee for the 2008 games, and holds significant contacts throughout the college ranks.
He was a major advocate of the football playoff selection committee process that was eventually chosen by the NCAA, and is slated to serve as a member of that selection committee.
“I know he’ll get (the Big 12) a fair shake,” WVU AD Oliver Luck said.
Bowlsby addressed West Virginia’s addition, noting that the Mountaineers brought the more imperative of the footprints – the electronic one.
“In this day and age, it isn’t as much about geographic footprint as it is electronic footprint,” Bowoslby said. “Now, the two are related in some significant ways. Having an eastern school allows us to get some media coverage and clearance on some markets where we wouldn’t have gotten clearances in the past.
“But it isn’t as much about trying to find new members in contiguous states as it used to be. The travel is easier. The electronic footprint is more important than geographic. I don’t know – other than the Big Ten having 12 and the Big 12 having 10 – that there’s anything not to like about our current configuration.”
Bowlsby didn’t completely dismiss the idea of adding additional members to the conference to perhaps bring it to 12 and hold a championship game, but he did note that there were pitfalls and complications involved with that process as well.
I look at it, as far as future conference expansion, that this ought to be a very hard fraternity to get into,” Bowlsby said. “No one should be able to come into the league that doesn’t meet the standard set by TCU and West Virginia. The team would have to add significant value competitively and economicially. I like 10. I think the majority of our members like 10. Does that mean (that the issue is decided)? No. I think conference expansion, alignment, is going to be on everybody’s agenda in every meeting, in the Big 12 and every other league. I would say we are very comfortable at 10, and we could stay comfortable for awhile.
“Under the best of circumstances, you’re supposed to have your two best teams in that, and one of them is going to come out as damaged goods. Is that the best in a four-team seeded playoff? Nobody wants to have their best team get beat and thereby take themselves out of it the title hunt. I actually like not having that addition step.”
Finally, the Iowa native noted that the league does not have the 13-year grant-of-rights that some assume it does. The current signed contract is for about half that term, with a 13-year possibility a strong likelihood.
“I’m still learning about the nuances of the TV contract,” Bowlsby said. “But our presidents have agreed in principle to a grant-of-rights. They have signed a grant-of-right for six years and agreed in principle to extending that to 13 years. Until we get done with all the TV negotiation, we won’t sign any official documents.”