Bob Bowlsby: NCAA might be in over its head with scandals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he's unsure if the NCAA is capable of adequately governing college athletics in the wake of the bribery scandal and federal investigation into basketball.

"I think that remains to be seen," Bowlsby said Tuesday at the league's media day for men's basketball. "The challenge for the NCAA is that it doesn't have the same tools at its disposal that [the] federal government does, so it's probably unrealistic to think that it can get the same results."

The FBI on Sept. 26 arrested assistant coaches from Oklahoma State, Arizona, Auburn and USC; they are among 10 people charged with fraud and corruption. The probe has focused on large payments to steer NBA-bound prospects toward sports agents, financial advisers and apparel companies.

Bowlsby said he's encouraged by the creation this month of the Commission on College Basketball, an NCAA-led group directed by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to reform and cleanse the sport. The commission includes NCAA president Mark Emmert.

Despite his concerns about the current governance model, Bowlsby said he believes "we will have made a big mistake if we depart from the student-athlete model."

The commissioner said he's long thought that men's college basketball combines the best and worst parts of college athletics -- from outstanding competition and fan support to "high-risk academic people and high-risk social people and lots of third parties that are involved."

"If you're a top 200 [prospect] in college basketball," Bowlsby said, "at a purely letter-of the-law basis, you're likely to have been professionalized some time during the process leading up to your recruitment in college through the benefits you've received in those kinds of things."

Kansas coach Bill Self called the investigation a "sad, dark cloud" over the sport and said changes need to be made to the recruiting process.

"I personally don't think it's a true indication of where our sport is, but I do think it's very evident that the culture in which we operate needs to be tweaked or changed, maybe even drastically in some ways," Self said. I think there has to be some serious changes made."

Self pointed to the influence of third parties as a primary factor.

"The NCAA rules have welcomed third parties to be part of the recruiting process," he said. "Whenever a shoe company is encouraged to fund AAU programs, well the reason they're funding those AAU programs is because the best prospects play on those programs. And when agents and financial planners and everybody can have relationships with parents and high school kids before a college coach can even talk to them, it means there could be influence. So if you don't want that influence, then you gotta change the rules drastically -- or if you do want that influence, maybe give them more. I don't know what the answer is."

For now, Bowlsby said, schools and conferences must simply wait for the next developments in the investigation.

"This is going to be around for a while," Bowlsby said, "and we're likely to be in the same situation that we're in now -- and that is that we don't know very much information, aren't going to get heads-up before things happen.

"And as a result of that, it's a period of some discomfort."

Bowlsby said he's confident in the ability of administrators and coaches at Big 12 schools to follow the rules and understand compliance guidelines.

In his role of chair of the Division I Football Oversight Committee, a subsidiary of the NCAA, Bowlsby said he's concerned that aspects of the basketball scandal could impact football.

"There are some problems that are baked in that are perhaps a little more prevalent, because of its structure, in college basketball," Bowlsby said, "but I think you don't have to have too vivid of an imagination to see this showing up in other sports."

ESPN's Jeff Borzello contributed to this report.