To begin Big 12 Media Days, commissioner Bob Bowlsby was the first to take to the mic’ and he immediately stepped in it - just don’t be offended by what he said.
Bowlsby had a long opening statement followed by 10 questions from the media - seven of those questions were about Baylor.
Among the many paragraphs Bowlsby said in regards to Baylor on Monday morning, one sentence touched a national nerve:
“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.”
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Amen and amen. The immediate over-reaction from social media to this statement was predictably swift, and stupid. Some people are offended by the assumption that drunk and drug-fueled teenagers are going to do stupid things. They will.
Bowlsby and the Big 12’s intention to know the specifics at what happened at Baylor are curious, and reek of self-importance, but at a minimum candor never hurts.
What Bowlsby said may sound offensive, but it is the truth. One of the roots of sexual violence on campuses all over the United States is booze and alcohol; to deny that educates no one. Drugs and alcohol do not justify assault, but both are causes. To curtail one could potentially have a positive affect on the other.
As to what the Big 12 Conference can do about this is anybody’s guess. The Big 12 thrust itself in an issue that is not too much of its concern. Somehow, the Big 12 decided that Baylor’s problems sullied the league’s image, which could not be further from the truth.
No one watching a Baylor University football game against Lamar High School believes, “The Big 12 is pathetic because it has Baylor.”
People may have thought that during the Kevin Steele era when the team was awful, but not because of this scandal.
“We have talked about what is the institutional responsibility versus what is the conference’s responsibility and how we go about separating those things,” Bowlsby said.
The conference’s responsibility is to ensure the teams are mostly on the up-and-up, and that is about it.
This is a Baylor-spefic issue and in no way does it reflect on anything other than Baylor University. For the Big 12, or any of its league presidents, to suggest otherwise is a search for drama.
What happened at Baylor does not hurt the image at TCU, Oklahoma or Kansas.
Baylor created this mess and only Baylor can get out of it. Its lack of proper procedures and basic protocol damages Baylor University and nothing else. The only real collateral damage the conference feels is that, most likely, it will have one less good football team to field.
Conferences like to stress “academic alignment” and a host of other issues but these leagues exist to coordinate sports teams and their schedules and little else. The games are paying the bills.
This is a conference that is considering expansion and just announced a new league title game, and yet one member is the dominant point of discussion. The Big 12 can blame itself for that because it made it an issue.
But Bowlsby and the Big 12 have inquired about the specifics as to what exactly happened at Baylor University and the rape scandal that eventually cost president Ken Starr, athletic director Ian McCaw and head football coach Art Briles their jobs.
Bowlsby has asked for full transparency from the school, which thus far has issued edited and limited statements regarding the scandal. The commish said Baylor has been compliant and provided specifics that are not available to the public.
“This is going to be a process. It is not going to go away soon,” Bowlsby said. “And I don’t know how to characterize it other than that.”
Baylor sullied itself, not the Big 12.