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Big 12 Commissioner On College Sexual Assault: Teens Will Be Teens

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Last week, SEC media days gave us the gift of Dan Mullen’s bullshit family. Today, at the Big 12 media day, league commissioner Bob Bowlsby took it upon himself to say something awful.

Here is part of his statement (emphasis mine); you can read his full press conference transcript here.

But let it suffice to say as it pertains to all of our institutions, we are very committed as a group of ten schools to eradicating sexual assault on our campuses. 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. But we certainly want to make sure that from the center we do everything we can to ensure that they are minimized, if not eradicated.

What Bowlsby is doing is making a not-so-subtle excuse for himself, the conference, and Baylor while bookending it with statements reflecting what appears to be a sincere attempt to minimize sexual assault on college campuses. Bowlsby is right to say that young women are at a higher risk of sexual assault—according to RAINN, women in college aged 18-24 are three times more likely to be sexually assaulted than the average woman, and women not in college aged 18-24 have a rate quadrupling the national female average. What he is very wrong about is why this demographic is dealing with such a high rate of sexual violence.

Forty-two percent of female rape victims, to cite one telling statistic, are raped for the first time before the age of 18—younger than the majority of Americans are when they set foot on a college campus, and younger than they are when they become exposed to the “alcohol and drugs and raging and hormones and the experiences of 18 - 22 years old” on which Bowlsby blames sexual assault on Big 12 campuses.


Bowlsby could have publicly addressed college campuses’ history of not taking rape seriously, or the reasons why they’re now being forced to, or the underlying issues here. He might have talked about 27 states requiring abstinence be stressed as the main form of sexual education and 26—including Texas, where Baylor is located—not requiring any form of sexual education whatsoever. He might have talked about Texas and 36 other states (including my home state of North Carolina) not requiring that the information passed along to children and teenagers be medically accurate, or about how when sexual education is taught, only 20 states mandate anti-coercion measures be covered. This would require, of course, addressing the fact that what we have is not a set of accidents involving human nature, but deeply-rooted issues tied to how we address sexual health and sexual assault education in our school systems.

Bowlsby makes $2.3 million to represent and lead a Power Five conference. He isn’t responsible for every assault or incident that occurs on a Big 12 college campus, but he is responsible for what he says at the podium, which—as of today—is the same bullshit we’ve been listening to for years.


Since being hired in 2012, his conference has featured a series of ignored sexual assault reports at Baylor that turned into the biggest sexual assault scandal in college sports since Joe Paterno had “a football season to worry about” at Penn State and the case of Joe Mixon assaulting a woman at a sub shop. Further, according to its commissioner, it boasts students who can’t help but rage and rape one another.

While the issues of domestic and sexual abuse have yet to come close to being properly addressed by the league and its coaches, the Big 12 will most likely have its championship game by 2017. This is progress in the flesh, my friends.

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