Bob Bowlsby is bringing out the flamethrower. The Big 12 Commissioner is having quite the day, first by sending a “cease and desist” letter to ESPN, and next accusing the Worldwide Leader of tampering with the Big 12.
He’s been busy, talking to Sports Illustrated, the Associated Press, and The Athletic, toting a similar line each time.
Bowlsby to SI
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby tells @SINow that he has documented evidence that ESPN tried to encourage an unnamed conference to add Big 12 members in an effort to destabilize the league so Texas & OU could avoid exit fees.— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 28, 2021
"It is tortious interference," he says.
Bowlsby: "It causes me to further suspect they (ESPN) had their hands all over the Texas and Oklahoma move to the SEC. They were was deceptive as you can possibly be. There are right and wrong ways to these things. They sought to deceive us from the very beginning."— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 28, 2021
Can confirm that the unnamed conference that Bowlsby is referencing is the American, source tells @SINow.— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 28, 2021
So ESPN was working with the American Athletic Conference to try and poach multiple Big 12 schools. This would destabilize the Big 12 enough to potentially dissolve the conference, relieving Texas and Oklahoma from the burden of having to pay a $76 million exit fee and join the SEC sooner.
So how many schools was the AAC planning on poaching, per ESPN’s request?
Big 12: ESPN conspired with American to take “3-5” teams to AAC. Story up soon.— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) July 28, 2021
Bowlsby to Associated Press
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby to AP: “I have absolute certainty they (ESPN) have been involved in manipulating other conferences to go after our members.”— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) July 28, 2021
The Big 12 has sent a cease-and-desist letter to ESPN, as first reported by @PeteThamel
Bowlsby told AP Texas and Oklahoma have been working on this for months while taking part in Big 12 strategy meetings where proprietary information was being shared.— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) July 28, 2021
"This whole thing has been a complete articulation of deception," Bowlsby said.
Bowlsby told AP that ESPN is incentivizing other conferences to destabilize the Big 12 so Oklahoma and Texas can get out of paying a buyout to the conference.— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) July 28, 2021
Story to come.
Bowlsby to The Athletic
Bob Bowlsby told @TheAthletic: "This collaboration between and among ESPN and conferences to undermine the Big 12 is a tortious interference with our business."— Max Olson (@max_olson) July 28, 2021
Bowlsby: "It’s not unrelated to OU-Texas, because if the conference ceases to exist, they have the best chance to join the SEC more quickly and they have the best chance to get out of their obligations for the grant of rights and the exit fees."— Max Olson (@max_olson) July 28, 2021
So here we have another accusation of ESPN looking to destabilize the Big 12 enough to get Texas and Oklahoma out of paying their exit fees. Bowlsby goes further in his conversation with The Athletic though, stating that he has evidence.
Bowlsby: "It’s clearly them doing things that are disadvantageous to our business and I have absolute certainty that what I’m saying is factual."— Max Olson (@max_olson) July 28, 2021
Bowlsby: "I’m not prepared to share the evidence, but I can tell you it’s irrefutable."— Max Olson (@max_olson) July 28, 2021