NOTEBOOK: Big 12 Men’s Basketball Media Day

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

Brian Mozey

Last March, the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, was packed with different types of colors, jerseys and team spirit for the Big 12 men’s basketball tournament. Iowa State would come away as champions from that weekend tournament.

Today, the Sprint Center was filled with media outlets as it hosted the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Media Day. The media was preparing for the upcoming 2017-18 season and the return to the Big 12 Championship Tournament in March for another jam-packed competition.

At media day, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby along with the league’s head coaches shared their comments and insight on key points brought up, while also sharing some breaking news with members of the media.

The FBI Investigation

Several schools have been involved in an FBI investigation and a couple of coaches have been fired because of these allegations.

One of the most famous coaches fired was Rick Pitino, the former University of Louisville coach. The investigation has been centered around how teams are recruiting incoming high-school players.

There have been alleged bribery and fraud schemes with assistant and head coaches paying recruits money to come to their school for basketball.

“Relative to the broader environment, obviously all of you have been paying attention, as all of us have, to the Department of Justice and FBI investigations,” Bowlsby said. “We really wish we had a fair amount more information on it.”

Out of the current schools, Oklahoma State is the only Big 12 school, so far, that has been connected to these allegations.

Former Oklahoma State assistant coach Lamont Evans allegedly accepted $22,000 in bribes to have athletes come to Oklahoma State. He was suspended without pay and later fired.

New head coach for Oklahoma State, Mike Boynton, had very little to say regarding the situation.

“Really can’t answer much with regard to the investigation,” Boynton said. “I will tell you just like everybody else in the country, probably in the world, when that headline comes across your phone, because I was on the plane that morning, I was shocked!”

Charity exhibition games

There have been some catastrophic events happening in the United States over the past few months with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Since these events have affected players from numerous basketball programs, there have been more charity-based games before the season starts. The Big 12 had a handful of teams like Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma that have raised money for relief organizations helping the devastation in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

The charity games are beneficial for raising money and having an opportunity to give back to the community, but it’s not NCAA approved.

Bowlsby showed his support toward the games, but also put the approval into perspective.

“Our country has had the burden of several natural disasters that have been truly significant, and it’s a good way for the sport of basketball to help, so I think that part of it has been good,” Bowlsby said. “I know there has been concern about it just creating an additional game.

“When there’s those that do it for charity, everybody else gets in line just to get an opportunity for another scrimmage or another game.”

New location for Big 12 Women’s Basketball Tournament

Bowlsby had some breaking news during his time at the podium. After answering a few questions, he told the media that the Big 12 decided to move the venue of the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Tournament back to Kansas City, Missouri in 2020.

The tournament will continue to play at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City until 2020. Once the year comes, the women will play at Municipal Auditorium, while the men play at the Sprint Center on the same weekend.

This 2020 format was the norm for many years before the women went to Oklahoma. Many journalists voiced their appreciation for this move and hope it stays this way for several years into the future.

Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly gave his opinion about the move in 2020 through a video on Twitter. He was simple and to the point.

He was happy.

“Could not be more excited to hear that the Big 12 women’s tournament is going to Kansas City,” Fennelly said. “I think some of the finest memories that I have are of when we played there.”