Bob Bowlsby says players are ‘college athletes’, not amateurs or pros

bob bowlsby

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby spoke Monday at the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and gave his unique take on what exactly he thinks people who play college sports are.

Bowlsby said, “I don’t think they’re amateurs. They’re college athletes.”


This is reminiscent of Michael Jordan’s “the ceiling is the roof” comment from a couple months ago. I still don’t know what the hell it means.

According to USA Today, the comment came in the context of a larger point he was making about the relationship colleges have with their big-time athletes, one that he says is unique to American higher education.

Bob Bowlsby went on to explain further, saying, “But the professionals are being paid and amateurs are doing it for the love of the game. And both of those are different than the college athletic environment. We typically categorize athletes as professionals or amateurs, right? And I don’t think (college athletes) are either. I think it’s a complete(ly) different genre of its own. Doesn’t exist anyplace else in the world where higher education and sports participation are linked, are co-curricular — and that makes it different.”

Alright, now I’m starting to see where Bowlsby is going with all this. Basically, he’s saying they aren’t being paid, but they aren’t playing for free either because there is a cost that is involved with tuition, room and board, facilities, trainers, etc.

It’s a never-ending debate that isn’t going away anytime soon. Pay ’em? Don’t?

I’ve forever fallen into the camp of not paying athletes for the simple reason that ever year you can count on one hand how many players are bigger than the name on the front of the jersey. Tim Tebow, yes. But hell, even guys like Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph, Jesse Ertz, and others aren’t bigger than OU, OSU or K-State.

Plus, the majority of players end up getting more out of the University (150-200k+ in tuition, room and board, tutoring, training, etc.) than they end up being worth to the University or football team. And the ones that are worth more than that end up getting paid in the NFL.

Now I’m all for guys skipping bowl games to protect themselves (as much as I hate to admit it), but paying the players? You won’t see me supporting that one anytime soon.

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