tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 23, 2015 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT
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now it's remarks from bob bowlsby the big 12 conference commissioner spoke about college athletics. this is an hour. welcome to the national press club. my name is john hughes. i'm editor for bloomberg first word. that is bloomberg's breaking news desk here in washington and i am the president of the national press club. our guest today is bob bowlsby. he's the fourth full time commissioner of the big the 12 conference. and he's going to talk to us about college athletics. first, i want to introduce our distinguished head table. this table includes guests of the speaker as well as national press club members.
from the audience's right, kevin wincing, retired navy captain and a member of the press club speakers committee. michael phelps, former publisher of the "washington examiner." lauren lewis, former fox news channel producer. is a colleen nelson, white house correspondent for "the wall street journal." carl leubsdorf, columnist for "the dallas morning news" kevin blackstone, washington post columnist and espn panelist. jerry zremski. washington bureau chief of the buffalo news. past president of the national press club and chairman of the speaker's committee. skipping over our speak are for a moment, pat host, reporter for defense daily and rotor wing international, and he is the speakers committee member who
organized today's event. thank you, pat. kenny hulshof, a former missouri congressman who is with kit bond strategies. >> brad miller for industry week magazine. anna miller, health and wellness reporter for "u.s. news and world report." jack williams, retired "usa today" weather editor and a freelance writer. [ applause ] i also want to welcome our c-span and public radio audiences, and i want to remind you if you are following the action on twitter, please use the #npclive. that's #npclive on twitter. well, if you love college
athletics, you know something about the big 12 conference, or at least the schools that are part of it. there's baylor, iowa state, kansas. kansas state, oklahoma, oklahoma state, tcu, texas, texas tech and west virginia. note to all college math majors, there are ten teams in the big 12. and by the way, there are 14 teams in the big ten. there will be a test after class. the big 12 faces more than a math issue, of course in today's era of league realignment and playoffs in what has become big time college football. last year the big 12's two best teams missed the playoffs, largely because they both finished with one loss and thus
tied for their league title. our guest today, mr. bowlsby is working hard to make sure that doesn't happen again. he's established a new football tiebreaker for the league after last year's playoff miss and despite the math issue i mentioned earlier, he's ruled out conference expansion in the near future. meanwhile, he has become a leader in off-field issues. he's advocated for regulations that prohibit schools from accepting transfer athletes with past disciplinary issues, including sexual violence. he has spoken out against co-opting the use of students' names. in daily fantasy spores calling it gambling. he's denounced cable networks what he calls betting friendly coverage. as a native of waterloo, iowa,
mr. bowlsby has been leading the big 12 for a little more than three years. conference teams achieved seven national championships in his first three years, and they set a record for revenue in 2014/2015, reaching $253 million. given that bowlsbypass been outspoken on so many college sports matters, we invited him to the national press club to share his thoughts. so please join me in giving a warm national press club welcome to big 12 commissioner bob bowlsby. [ applause ] >> yes, i'm outspoken. sometimes to my own detriment. my presidents and chancellors
have told me that i should give them a little bit of warning when i'm going to say anything that's provocative. i didn't call any of them today. but so my, my notes are not overly provocative. your questions may get me into a situation where i get in trouble with my bosses. and so please spare me. i come with apologies for missing last year. i was just about ready to come to washington, d.c., and my, my friend in washington, d.c. mentor, kenny hulshof had been getting me in to see representatives and senators in anticipation of what might happen with the national labor relations board or the class action lawsuits we were part of.
and we were planning another round of visits in washington, d.c. when on the thursday before the ou/texas football game, which you may know in dallas is a pretty big deal, the red river rivalry was just about to happen when i learned that i had a torn retina in my left eye. and i said, well maybe we can get it fixed over thanksgiving. and they said we're going to do surgery this afternoon or tomorrow morning. so i started canceling things, and unfortunately my visit to the press club, which i was very much looking forward to was among those. so my apologies for delaying this by a year. it's the fourth week of the football season, also the fourth year of my tenure at the big 12. i came up as a wrestler in college, and i had aspirations to being a coach and a teacher. i still consider myself an educator, and i really think that's why i've stayed at this for, for about 35 years.
but, as i've been away from campus, and it's just been in the last four years, i was director of athletics at northern iowa, at the university of iowa and at stanford university, and in those roles i got to be around a lot of great kids, a lot of great coaches and wonderful people. you get all the high highs and the low lows. it goes along with working in a volatile environment. but it's a supportive and team oriented environment as well. and this last four years, the first time that i've been away from that. i've, i really missed the energy that comes with a campus at the end of august and beginning of september. this time of year, you can't replicate the energy that's there. and i honestly even miss some of the knucklehead stuff that, you know, 18, 19, 20 year olds do. and lord knows, there's plenty of those kinds of things.
but being away from the good stuff that goes along on campus has, has really reminded me and kind of led me to look at the enterprise of athletics just a little differently. and, as john mentioned, i have been critical of some of the things that we've been doing and not doing in intercollegiate activities. and the preponderance of opportunities and experiences, the vast majority of the people are unbelievably positive. it's a great thing. one of the things that kind of goes without being noticed too much is one out of every five division one college athletes is a first-generation college student. one out of five. that's pretty remarkable. it's the athletic scholarship program at america's universities is the
second-largest scholarship program in the history of the united states, second only to the gi bill. it is a remarkable success story, but yet when you look at how the sausage is made, there's plenty of stuff in there that i'm not proud of and i don't think others should be proud of it either. now you can stay at it, i'm 63 years old. i told the people at the big 12 i wanted to work another 10 years when i took the job, and i guess i'll probably do that, but i don't expect to move any place else, and it would probably be just as easy to say this is what it is, and i'll, i'll live with it and collect my check on the 20th of the month. and we'll go on our merry way. anybody that knows me very well will tell you i'm not wired that way. and part of the reason i took
the job is because i felt like i could have more of an opportunity to affect change at the national level as a conference commissioner than i could as the director of athletics at stanford university. so i began the process of digging into how the sausage is made. and whether you want to go down the path and chew on your braunschweiger or salami or summer sausage and not really look into how it's made or the other alternative is to dig deep and look to things with eyes wide open on things that ought to change. things we don't like, things that might not be right for young people, things that might not be right within the context of higher education, i'd prefer to do the latter. i have spent time trying to get involved in the things that will make a difference, and, you know, we've got 350 division one athletic programs, division one
universities. and these universities range in budget from $3 million on one end to almost $200 million on the other end. and yet we all try to lay in the men's basketball tournament and women's basketball tournament. we try to make rules that paint all of those organizations with a single brush. what's a great decision at the university of oklahoma may be an awful decision at northern iowa, where i spent some time, and maybe an even worse decision at sienna, if you think about what their needs might be. and so increasingly, i wonder about whether or not we can continue to manage this enterprise with 1200 schools in the ncaa, 350 in division one and trying to make rules that essentially create a level playing field. and we've said that for decades. we want a level playing field. we want us all to be equal.
and what that means is we dumb down a lot of our processes in deference to the people who can't afford a faster set of priorities. i think there's a real question as we reorganize the ncaa yet again as to whether or not we can meet the very needs of that wide and diverse population. this is an infinitely more complex environment than the nfl or the nba or major league baseball. when you think about having 32 entities managed by a group of people who actually own the businesses, and the decision processes that go into it, it's not even close. mark emmert has an extraordinarily difficult job, because the president, although he's called the president of the ncaa really has no power except
that which is given to him by his, his board of directors. and so it's very difficult to affect meaningful change. we have a new governance structure. we're being helped right now by the courts. we have gotten some favorable outcomes. we've gotten some disfavorable outcomes, but we are in a period of significant evolution. we are, there are things going on right now in, in college athletics that we, we really never thought would happen. think of, think about friday night used to be completely sacrosanct. we would never put college games on friday now. now we play friday night, wednesday night, thursday night, tuesday night. in search of the holy grail, which is tv money. we are routinely selling alcohol at college games, despite the
fact that three-fourths of the college undergraduates are under age. you know they don't constitute the majority of most crowds. but still it's highly symbolic in some obvious ways. and the other thing is, you know, we're starting to see a proliferation around gambling that is really quite remarkable. and at a time when we're trying to delineate the differences between the college, the collegiate experience and the professional experience, you know, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and talks like a duck, pretty soon it's hard to determine that it's not a duck. and that's really where we are. you know, we have cover alerts on our television coverage now, point spreads are routinely promoted. some of the, some of the fantasy games that are weekly and daily games, you're never going to convince me it's not gambling.
is there skill involved? yeah, there's skill involved. there's skill involved in blackjack, too. but this is, this is gambling. you're wagering money and taking your chance on winning, and oh, by the way, just like the fact that they didn't build the buildings in las vegas on the backs of winners, they're not giving away million dollars checks on the backs of winners either. there are people losing significant amount of money on these games, and fan dual and draft kings three weekends in a row were the largest purchasers of advertising on espn and fox, without any real comparison. at the same time, you know, we see all these troubling trends. there's a, you know, there are a lot of interesting, fundamental questions that i think we can ask ourselves. you know, is there an appetite
or even a need to create policies and procedures that differentiate college sports from the professional sports? is it even feasible to think about it? if educational leaders don't do it, if class action lawsuits don't change the way you operate, then, you know, what is it that's going to accomplish any sort of meaningful change? you know, we, we think about the, most of the lawsuits that we're involved in are a result of the difference between room, board, books, tuition and fees, and what it really costs to go to school. it is really the substance of this, these lawsuits, and it's easy to get lost in here's this million dollar coach and here's this poor student athlete that only makes room, board, books,
tuition and fees and the cost of attendance. but the median income in most states is between $40,000 and $60,000 per year. the average value of a college athletic scholarship on a full ride basis with all the bells and whistles and academic support and sports medicine that go with it is easily between $80,000 and $125,000 per year. there's certainly the argument if you're going to be compensated, aren't you fairly compensated already? and by the way, there's some fairly significant lifetime implications to getting a college education. i really believe in the model. and i really believe that it's important for that 20% of our student population who's never had a relative go to college, that that happens. those are important societal things for us. so we have to do what's right for young people. and the fact is we finally, with
the help of the courts have gotten to the point where we could legitimately provide something more than room, board, books, tuition and fees, and i was on the ncaa financial aid committee in 1987 when we came up with a revolutionary new idea. we were going to provide room, books, board, fees and $2,000 per year. it got shot down that people couldn't afford it then. and it's gotten shot down four or five times since then. and i would submit to you, we could have avoided all of these lawsuits had we been able to get that passed, and finally we have been able to do it with the help of the ninth circuit in california. other questions. you know, can there be a legitimate and viable developmental opportunity for young people who are unprepared to go to college and really uninterested in a college education? and right now the only pathway for football and basketball players is to go to college. there is no other alternative. the major league baseball model
is really the one that i can take some pride in. draft me out of high school or leave me alone until after my junior year, and if i want to go and play minor league baseball, develop my skills, follow my dream of playing in the big leagues, i can do that. there's no comparable opportunity in football or men's basketball other than going to college. should college athletics and higher education be expected to set examples for society? well, we're really high visibility, but is it unrealistic to expect that our campuses and our college athletic programs would be a reflection of society instead of somebody that's setting examples? well, i think the gambling example is a really good one. we all remember the day when we didn't have any state lotteries or they were really limited. people played numbers games. organized crime made a lot of
money at it. people really wanted lotteries, and now i think every state has its own lotteries. we have a national lottery. it's something that the public wanted. we legitimatized it and a lot of the illegal opportunities went away. right now gambling, i believe i'm correct when i say it, it's illegal in 49 states, and yet, espn and fox insist upon carrying betting lines on college football games, and pro football games for that matter. our student athletes are spending an enormous amount of time in pursuit of excellence. and some of it they do on their own. some of it they are pushed into by coaches, but every institution keeps track of what's called countable athletic related activities, and this rule hasn't been reevaluated for probably since 1991 when it was
put in place. prior to text messages, prior to digitized video, prior to a lot of the things that we now have in place. and so i think it's a fair question to ask how we reinvent ourselves, because what happens when the ncaa tries to reinvent something is we start out to design a thoroughbred race horse to perform a very particular function, and by the time it gets done going through the process, it mostly looks like a three-legged camel that doesn't run very fast and doesn't really meet anybody's needs. so how do ads and presidents affect genuine change where change is necessary, retaining all the good things that are right about intercollegiate athletics and doing it in an environment where by virtual universal acknowledgement their coaches sometimes exercise influence over regents and
trustees and athletic directors and presidents find themselves in very compromising positions when they advocate for real change. how do we seek to manage transfers from one university to another? we have coaches that jump all over every place, leave their contracts before their completion. we have institutions that fire their coaches years short of the commitment that they said they would give them. and yet, we have, we find that in men's basketball, almost 50% of division one men's basketball players transfer at least once in their career. almost 50%. i mean, that's an embarrassment to higher education. it makes a mockery of it. as i said, we've had a few positive outcomes. the national labor relations
board deciding not to deal with the northwestern unionization issue. i do think that there'll be a time, and i'm glad the unionization process is cooled for right now. but the fact is, and it will probably be in the sport of men's basketball, there will be a day in the future when the popcorn is popped, the tv cameras are there, the fans are in the stands, and the team decides they're not going to play. mark my words. we will see that in the years ahead. and we, we saw some of it for other reasons in the '70s, but i really believe that we, we aren't finished with the compensation issue or with the employee versus student issue. i would be out of this, as my
career, in a hurry, if i didn't believe that this was a co-curricular activity, that it was worth the time and effort to go through having kids -- you know, our goal is to help 18-year-old adolescents become 22-year-old adults and in the process get a good education and have a great collegiate experience, collegiate athletics experience. now if they go on to have a professional career, if they can go on and compete in the olympics, those are highly desirable by-products of a collegiate experience, but they are not why we're there. and i recognize that there are some real contradictions in the system, but we, we have to, we have to get our arms around the fact that this is about a college experience. this is about students who are there to get an education. those that ultimately end up
going to the olympics or going into the professional ranks, it's an infinitesimal number, about 1.5% of the fbs division one football players are drafted. less than half that actually make a roster. it's a very small number. and the percentages are even smaller in men's basketball. so there are unrealistic expectations in the system as we think about other changes, perhaps, it's a time to have one semester sports, so that we can have students that are legitimate students during part of the year and have a bigger commitment to their athletics in the rest of the part of the year. maybe it's time to federate our rules by sport. so that we don't have to worry any longer with trying to make rules that equally impact football and golf and field
hockey and track and field. maybe, maybe the days of having conferences are coming to an end. perhaps we end up with confederations of one sort or another that are horizontally arranged by sport rather than having multi-sport organizations that operate as we do today. it's easy to pose all these questions, and i think there are, there are lots of legitimate answers and lots of differences of opinion. with my hat on as a member of the u.s. olympic committee the last eight years, i really worry about what happens when a lot of money goes into football and men's basketball and people are on campus are wondering how to fund it, and all of a sudden wrestling and swimming and golf and tennis and lacrosse and a lot of these other sports begin to go away. i think it changes the culture of the campus, and i think it eliminates an enormous number of
opportunities for young people. so even with all that i've described, i'm very committed to it, because i believe in it. and i think for the vast majority of kids, they're doing it the right way. they're there for the right reasons, but we've got some things that i think we have to deal with, and we -- i'm committed to the task. i believe in the mission. i think it's a terrific, terrific leadership laboratory. but if we're not forthright in at least advocating for the things that would be appropriate changes i just think that we're going to be constantly facing what we've been faced in the last three years, and that is what we say we're going to do, what we articulate as our philosophy and our principles is inconsistent with our actions. and i, you know, i don't think you can play football games on tuesday night and say you care about the education of the
campus and the kids. i just think there are lots of examples. some of them very glaring where we, we don't, we don't walk the talk. and until we start reconciling some of those, i just think we're going to be in for a long slog. and it's, with that backdrop that i look at it and say, you know, if we, if we want to extricate ourselves from the courts and from some of the challenges, then we need to, we need to define ourselves differently than sometimes others define us. and so i, i'm excited about the challenge. i'm a little bit tired from the challenge. i, i really didn't, all of the lawsuits came after i signed a contract to come to the big 12.
and i, i've now learned more about article i of sherman anti-trust than i ever thought i needed to know. but having said that, it's been a very interesting intellectual journey, and because i believe in the enterprise, and because i remember how transformational an experience a career in intercollegiate athletics can be i'm ready to fight the fight the next few years and hopefully helping to either incrementally or perhaps even more radically change the enterprise. so thank you very much. and i'll be happy to address your questions. [ applause ] >> thank you so much, bob. college sports has become such a big money enterprise in every respect. some of the reforms that you talk about, whether it's
transfers, alcohol in stadiums, betting, is it really the big money nature that is preventing these reforms? or is that oversimplifying it? that it's about the money? >> i don't think there's any question about it. all of the things that i talked about, the gambling and the alcohol and the playing all over the calendar. they're all driven by money. and they're driven by a need to try and chase that holy grail, and i think that, you know, one of the things we did with regard to autonomy is we sought to not draw any bright lines. the five conferences that, the big 12, the sec, the pac 12, the big 10 and acc believed that the student athletes in our programs were highly recruited. they had some challenges with
agents and they had experiential things that were different than the vast majority of the other student athletes, and that's the reason we went down the path of having some control over our own fate, but when we did that, we didn't want to draw any bright lines and say you can participate with us, and you can't participate with us. anybody that wants to play by the same rules that we want to play by can do so. we just don't want to be told by a minority of 300 that we can't operate our own programs, and i think many thought that it would be a runaway train when the five of us had the opportunity to set some of our own rules. and, in fact, most of our rules changes have been around restrictions, rather than expansions. and so it, but you're right. it is all about money. and it's about people without money trying to keep up with
those that have money, and that makes for strange bedfellows, obviously. >> if we pay college athletes salaries, in other words, more than just an allowance, will we get athletes whose lives are ruined by too much too soon? would there be a down side to paying athletes salaries? >> that's a great question. the one thing i will say is college athletes aren't any better at handling finances any better than other college students. having educated four of them myself, i've had them squander amounts of money that i thought were really quite astonishing. but i do think over a long period of time we have invited students to campus, fully with the acknowledgement that some of them have no opportunity for resource support from home.
and we've said, we're going to give you room, board, books, tuition and fees and you should be happy with it, even though we know they don't, they don't have pocket money. they don't have any discretionary money. they don't have money to go home. and so, can we, could we provide them with more than they can -- than they can handle? i think most institutions are, they have the prerogative to provide a check for the entire year if they wanted to. but most of them are putting it out on a two-week basis or a four-week basis for the exact reason that they don't want people to have large amounts of money that is discretionary for all of, in a short period of time. and so i think resource management really is important. and i think it's, it's important that we be thoughtful about it, because it's easy to squander the money, and i think, there is a good and appropriate reason to pay every nickel of what it
costs to go to college. there is not a compelling cost in my estimation to pay above that. and i think once we get above that we're on a very slippery slope. then it just becomes a matter of how much. so, had we put full cost of attendance in place 15 years ago, i think we would have avoided the lawsuits that we now find ourselves in. can we give them too much too soon? sure, we can. but i think one thing that is kind of common, it's starting to go. the difference, the delta at texas may be $3,000 and the delta at oklahoma may be $4,000. and coaches say, well, how can we compete against one another when they can give $4,000, we can only give $3,000? i think the answer is, at the end of your college days, at both schools, you graduate with no debt.
and there aren't very many college students that can say that these days. >> this questioner notes that most of the discussion about compensating athletes in some way is rooted in football and basketball, because team members in those sports are responsible for bringing in the revenue. if football and basketball players eventually get compensated in some way, how do you feel about members of tennis or gymnastics, swimming, non-revenue sports teams, should they also get some kind of compensation? >> well, as a former college wrestler, i would suggest that none of the football and basketball players worked any harder than i did. and i think that if you apply any form of the labor theory of value, i would think that you would say they all work hard and they all deserve some incidental expense money, which they are getting, the rule of the cost of attendance doesn't just apply to football and basketball, but yes, they are the ones that are
generating that. having said that, when you think about the football and basketball environment, it's easy to say, look at the full stadium and look at the coaches' salary. why shouldn't the players get some of it? well, first of all, almost all of the money that's raised through those processes goes to support other things within the athletics department. the other thing is, the football and basketball players don't work any harder. they don't work any longer. they just happen to have the blessing of an adoring public that is willing to pay to get in to their events. and i just am not convinced that it's through their own hard work that they're entitled to more than other student athletes. i know there's a case to be made on the other side of it. we did a forum here in, what was it? in april, where jay billis and i sat next to each other and debated that very topic, but i
just, this is a very unique model. it is socialistic in its heritage. and i, i just am not compelled by the argument that it should be just football and basketball. and by the way, i don't think our federal laws allow us to do that. if we're going to have 85 scholarship football students getting full cost of attendance and 13 men's basketball we're legally and duty bound to do similar for women student athletes in the same numbers. >> this questioner says baylor versus tcu, big 12 football championship game was an obvious unfortunate tragedy, because one of those teams should have been in the college football playoffs. is there any interest in creating a big 12 conference
tournament for football, and if not, why not? >> well, the, our athletic directors, i was actually proud of them after we were all in new york together. and we were bitterly disappointed not to have either team in. there were those among the fan bases that thought we ought to be, that i ought to intervene and say, since we have a rule that says we have co-champions in virtually every sport. so obviously you can't change that rule in the middle of the year. but there were a few baylor fans that thought i should be able to do that and that i should go ahead and anoint them as our champion and thereby put them in better position to get into the playoff, but we have proposed, along with the acc a rule that would deregulate the rules around the championship game. right now, you have to have at least 12 members. you have to have, you have to play two six-team divisions and a round robin in your own division. we've asked to have those rules deregulated. and if that happens, we'll be able to have a championship game
with ten members, and i can't honestly tell you if we'll do it or not. i actually think that the, our path to the playoffs in many years may be preferable to those that put their two best teams against each other in a game late in the season, because your best team doesn't always win. in fact, our history with a big 12 championship game is that our better team got beat about 50% of the time. so our pathway might end up being favorable to the conference playoff. >> this questioner says most division one athletic departments run a deficit. why is that? >> they spend too much. [ laughter ] >> we'd like to think they can get their budgets in line with all that money coming in, so what's wrong? >> you would like to think that. yeah. i told that our presidents, not
long ago that it didn't matter how much money we created through, and that's one of the things that the conference offices expected to do is be a rainmaker for our members. and, you know, it's been an interesting transition for me, because our budget, while, as johnson, we distribute $250 million to our member, our annual operating budget's only about $15 million. we have 30 full-time equivalencies. it's a relatively small operation. my budget at stanford was $100 million per year. and we had 425 full-time equivalencies. so it's a very different management environment than i was accustomed to before. but institutions have taken on very large amounts of debt, mostly for facilities. they have paid coaches that, more than they can really afford to pay. especially in the case of not wanting to lose a coach. and, as a general statement, they are not particularly well-run enterprises, a lot of times.
there are about 25 schools out of the top 125 athletic departments that play sbf football, at the highest level. about 25 of those actually break even or make money, and the rest lose money. many of those 125 are highly subsidized by their institutions. in fact, some of them are putting up something approaching $25 million a year into their athletics program, and not surprisingly, there are robust debates on campus where those kinds of subsidies are taking place, because, you know, the faculty salaries are frozen and state support is, is diminishing or at best staying the same, and all of a sudden you're putting $25 million toward an intercollegiate athletics program that many on campus don't think is doing much for the institution. and so i think that, you know,
the -- there are bad decisions being made in terms of not only how much is being spent but what it's being spent on. and then some of it is structural, too. we require that if you're going to play in division one you have at least 16 sports programs. well, if that rule would ever change, you can bet that there would be a bunch of non-revenue supports that would go away. and, as i mentioned before, i think that really changes the character of your athletics program, and indeed your university as well, because it's a place where opportunities ought to be diverse and robust. and the narrower it gets, the less that's going to be true. >> this questioner here in the room wants to follow up on something that you said earlier in your remarks. are things really so bad that college basketball players will some day boycott a game, and how close are we to that point?
>> well, i don't, i don't think close. it's a great question. but i just think that the tensions in the system aren't going to go away anytime soon. and, you know, it depends on who you ask. i was speaking to a class last week. and there was a basketball player in the class. and he's a nice young guy. had a number of different good questions, thoughtful. and i said, do you think of yourself as an employee? and he said, yes, i do. and i said, well, tell me why. and he says, well, my time is not my own. i'm told where to go and when i can come and when i can't, when i can't come. and i travel. i don't play very much, so this is a good way for me to get my school paid for, but i feel very much like an employee, because i don't have any control over where i go, what i do, how i work out, how long i work out, what i eat, where i eat. he said that sounds like an
employee to me. and i said, well, you know, you have a choice, as to whether you participate. he says well, i don't feel like i have a choice because i don't, my family can't afford to send me to college, and this is the i have a choice because my family can't afford to send me to college, and this is the way i get there. and i said, well, would you feel different about it if you, if you were playing a lot? and he said, well, i, right now i lack the passion because i'm not really one of the people that's impactful on the team, and i'm grateful for what i'm getting, but you asked me if i feel like an employee and i do. and, you know, i have thought about it a lot since then. and am going to ask that question of others, as i go around one of the things i do in the course of the year is i try to meet with what are called
student athlete advisory committees. each campus has a student athlete advisory committee that's an elected body with representatives from each sport. and it's one of the things i'm going to probe with them a little bit because, you know, i guess in the end it doesn't really matter what the courts say about employee status or not. if the student athletes feel like they're involved in a situation where they lack control over what it is they can do or can't do -- and lord knows we've got lots of rules that govern them from a grade point average and name image and
likeness standpoint. >> i probably would have felt different if i was still on campus, but in listening to student athletes, in some ways, we're putting them in untenable situations. >> two ongoing health issues have been a concern in professional sports in particular, but of course it's also an issue at the collegiate level, particularly in football. one being concussions. there was another major study out this weekend on the effects of concussions and ongoing brain injuries in later years, and also performance enhancing drugs. on the college level, are we on top of those to the degree that we need to be? or is there more that needs to be done? >> well, let me ask -- answer the second one first. my opinion is we need to do more with regard to performance enhancing drugs. the testing has been almost completely left to institutional prerogative. and they are are -- there is wide variance as to how the policies work and how often
they're tested and what they're tested for and the like. there is also a fair amount of variance in how the ncaa testing program goes, and i just think it's an area that we probably need to spend some more time on. i don't think we do as much as the national governing bodies in our olympic programs, and we, i think we can probably do better. i don't know if it's a conference initiated program. we have a random drug testing program in the big 1 and i think most conferences do, but we're really testing a very, very small number of the total athletes on each campus. i think we end up testing between 40 and 60 on each campus. so it really is not all that impactful. and i think we probably have more that we can do. in the case of the concussions, we have really tried to lead on that. we, the big 12, has just put in place a rule that cut our full contact practices by 50% going into this year. we went from three days a week
to two days a week. we are still higher than what the nfl allows. the nfl only allows 11 days of full contact after the first game. and so we're in -- in my estimation, a bit of a compromising position. but the issue of concussions is obviously acute in college football, and we've changed the rules to make helmet to helmet contact and targeting illegal, including ejections, and it really has changed the way people play the game. we still call it once in a while, but it isn't like it was two or three years ago. and the interesting thing about that is, one of two things happen if you target somebody in practice. you do it to one of your teammates. and by targeting it, i'm talking about helmet to helmet contact where you're launching against another person's head. one of two things happen. either the coach takes you out
and sits you down and gives you a real understanding of his displeasure, or the teammates take care of it. and so why would we allow in a game teams to target other players, especially defenseless players, and high-five each other when they come to the sidelines on the same thing that we would punish them for if they did it in practice? and so we've come a long ways with the targeting. and i think we'll continue to come a long ways. there is virtually no lo longitudinal study in place right now. they're in the early stages of it. the ncaa and the department of defense are collaborating on a $30 million research project on
concussions and subconcussive events. there are some evidence that repetitive use issues might come in to play as well, and there's not much in the way of evidence there, but i would also mention that it's not just in football where we see this. women's soccer has a high incidence of head to head contact. wrestling is really the highest one among all the sports, and i didn't know that until later, and it probably explains some of my disabilities to this day, but it's a hot topic. there's pending litigation. we are working our way through it. and i'm happy to say we're making progress. i think kids in football are safer today than they were a few years ago. >> this is a question following up on your comments about the northwestern case. since the nlrb ruled against college athletes unionizing, a coach was fired for making injured players play, a coach was disciplined for fining players, a school was revealed to buy an easy curriculum for athletes to maintain their eligibility. against that backdrop, why shouldn't athletes have
representation like other workers? >> well, they -- i don't consider them to be workers. i consider them to be students. but the point of representation is a really good one. and i think it's really the achilles heel for a lot of our campuses. it is a very fine line between motivating someone to go where they might not be able to take themselves and being abusive. it's a very fine line. we want to push young people -- and it's true in high school. it's true in college. it's true in the professional ranks. you want to -- that's what coaches do. they push people to places they
can't go themselves or couldn't readily get there themselves. but it isn't far past that line that it becomes abusive. so i think it's all together legitimate. we rely on people of good will to manage the programs and make sure that coaches are not doing the things that you noted. and there are -- like any other profession, there are failures. we're not infallible. that's for sure. the conference doesn't get too much involved in that, but having spent 32 years on campus, i've done a lot of -- i've had to do a lot of interventions when coaches have behaved badly. and would student athletes been served well by having an advocate? typically, it was their parents that did that. but not all our kids come from the kind of family environment
where they can count on parental assistance. and i don't know how you allow advocates and not have those advocates get involved in such things as playing time and who gets featured and how the program gets run. it's a little bit of a slippery slope, but i recognize that 18 year olds need advice. up next on c-span 3, we'll get a preview of the term. after that, a conversation on pope francis' u.s. visit with former u.s. ambassador to the holy sea jim nicholson. david petraeus testifies about the middle east and the militant group isis. the c-span networks feature
weekends full of politics, books, and american history. the pope's visit to the u.s. continues saturday as he travels from new york to philadelphia. live coverage starts at 4:45 p.m. eastern as pope francis speaks at independence hall. then at 7:30 p.m. the pontiff attends the festival of families, which is part of the world meeting of families. moving to our road to the white house coverage, join us sunday evening at 6:35 eastern as harvard professor and presidential candidate lawrence lessig talks about his decision to run for president. saturday night at 10:00 p.m., fox news host bill o'reilly speaks with babe buchanan on his latest book