Boise president says he was calling out SEC, Big Ten commissioners

For the record, Boise State president Bob Kustra was calling out Jim Delany and Mike Slive on Wednesday.

In a criticism of NCAA reforms distributed to media, Kustra -- somewhat cryptically -- referred to “two of the conferences taking the lead in calling the shots for the others.”

Kustra told he was definitely talking about the SEC and Big Ten commissioners, largely considered two of the most powerful persons in college sports.

“I do think when it comes to certain commissioners the idea is to leave everyone else in the dust,” Kustra said. “The first list of reforms I had, I asked my commissioner where it came from. He told me it came right off the desk from [the SEC]. … I think the Big Ten was furious when it got out.

“This isn’t something that rolled off the presidents’ desk. The presidents are clueless.”

Neither Delany nor Slive responded to Kustra’s original criticism when contacted through spokesmen.

You’re way ahead of the irony train if you’re thinking that Kustra is one of those presidents. The 71-year old CEO has been at Boise more than a decade, overseeing Boise’s rise from sleepy WAC school to top 25 Cinderella in the BCS era.

Kustra believes that NCAA restructuring will unfairly impact smaller schools.

“At least something had to be said,” Kustra said. “I have no doubt they’re going to do this.”

The Big Five schools (Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC, ACC) are well down the road toward voting autonomy. Last month, the NCAA board of directors approved a draft proposal in handing those leagues more power in the future. Autonomy is expected to be formally adopted by the NCAA board in August.

The front-burner issues include a full cost of attendance for athletes as well as improved “working” conditions.

Meanwhile, conferences are discussing what all of it means during a current NCAA comment period at their spring meetings. While most of the reforms are made in the name of student-athlete welfare, Kustra has another view. He believes the money spent on enhancing training table availability and cost of attendance is a move toward professionalism.

“I didn’t force you to come here,” Kustra said, referring to athletes. “If on the other hand, you subject yourself to the kind of discipline from a football program or tennis program, that’s your decision.

“These kids have free wills. We have students working on pre-med programs. Take a look at the schedule of pre-med students. They’re at least as busy as student-athletes.

“The idea that we owe them [athletes] a living is wrong.”

Kustra reiterated that he supports NCAA reforms in regards to concussion monitoring, ongoing education and scholarship assurance in the event of career-ending injury.

He contends that schools like Boise will have a hard time paying for unlimited training table and cost of attendance.

“This is one more step away from amateur athletics and to professionalism and commercialism,” Kustra said. “If you don’t slam the door shut it will drive the next generation of presidents.”

Reminded that Boise just announced a $12.5 million stadium naming-rights deal, Kustra didn’t back down.

“To be honest the timing is perfect,” he said. “The money is probably going to be spent on NCAA reform. If we want to remain in Division I we either have to play the game or get out of it.”

Kustra was a former member of the NCAA board in 2010-11. That group wasn’t considering the full list of reform issues of today. 

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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