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Bowlsby attacks NCAA; suggests Division 4 football is possible

DALLAS -- Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby delivered a scathing attack of the NCAA legislative process Monday at the conference's media days, stopping just short of suggesting secession by BCS schools from the organization is possible.

Bowlsby told media in his state-of-the-union address that it is virtually impossible to pass meaningful legislation, and he hinted a separate division -- a so-called Division 4 -- is possible for the top football-playing schools. He added there is “unanimity” among his fellow FBS commissioners, saying leaving the NCAA and setting up a new organization is not likely “except as a last resort.”

“I think we all have a sense that transformative change has to happen,” Bowlsby said.

He went as far to agree with Alabama coach Nick Saban's belief that the top five BCS conferences (Pac-12, Big 12, SEC, ACC, Big Ten) could play games among themselves in the future. Saban reiterated that belief last week at SEC media days.

“If you do that it's a zero-sum game,” Bowlsby said. “There are going to be winners and losers in there … If you have only those five conferences playing each other there's going to be half those people who are traditional losers.”

That comment could mean that the non-BCS conferences (Conference USA, Mountain West, MAC, Sun Belt and American beginning in 2014) could essentially be cut out of major-college football. Some would argue they already are.

“We've made it too easy to get into Division I and too easy to stay there,” Bowlsby said, later adding. "Northern Iowa and Texas aren't much alike."

BCS leagues' frustration has crystallized lately around the stipend issue. The BCS schools favor paying players, but the legislation has been slowed by the concerns of smaller schools that can't afford such an expenditure.

The last time there was such upheaval in Division I football was 1978, when 250 or schools broke off from the highest level and became Division I-AA (currently FCS). To be clear, Bowlsby wasn't necessarily talking about breaking away from the NCAA, but basically forming a new division.

“I don't know how you go about solving problems other than to get like-minded people together and come up with some solutions,” he said.

He added that change would likely come about through an NCAA special convention. Bowlsby stressed that his remarks were not meant to target NCAA president Mark Emmert, saying his frustrations go back 15 years.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive called for a clearer definition of the role of the NCAA's board of directors last week at his conference's media days.

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