Bowlsby said he's doesn't think there is a real understanding of how much lawsuits which he numbered as seven and "growing all the time" could radically alter things.
"I think all of that in the end will cause programs to be eliminated. I think you'll see men's Olympic sports go away as a result of the new funding challenges that are coming down the pike," he said. "I think there may be tension among and between sports on campus and institutions that have different resources."
While acknowledging the outcomes are unknown, the former Stanford athletic director expressed concern about fewer opportunities for some athletes to go to college in the future.
"I fear that we will get past the change and then we'll realize that all the gymnastics programs went away, or that we have agents on campus all the time negotiating playing time for student athletes," he said. "There's all kind of Armageddon scenarios you could come up with."
A year ago, Bowlsby's opening address was part of a coordinated effort by the leaders of the power conferences the Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC in calling for transformative changes in the governance system of the NCAA.
The NCAA board of directors is set to vote Aug. 7 on a proposal to give schools in the highest-profile conferences more influence over college rules. The proposal also would give athletic directors and athletes bigger roles in the legislative process, and give the power conferences autonomy to make their own bylaws.
That vote will come a day after the Big 12 sponsors the first in a scheduled series of forums on the state of college athletics.
When addressing potential unionization of football and basketball players, Bowlsby said "student-athletes are not employees. They should never be employees. It's not an employee/employer relationship."
Bowlsby also said the NCAA is "headed down a path of significant financial difficulty" with revenues from television packages going up about 21/2 percent a year while expenses are increasing more than 4 percent annually.
That includes schools paying $1 million or more per year under new rules to start providing unlimited food and nutrition to student-athletes. Plus, future scholarships could provide more money to cover the full cost of attendance.
"I think that's great. I think there are ways that it costs more than room, board, books, tuition and fees to go to school," Bowlsby said. " But even in an environment where we have some additional revenue coming in from television resources, primarily, it is going to be very difficult for many institutions to fund that.
"In the end, it's a somewhat zero-sum game. There's only so much money out there."
Bowlsby also addressed the NCAA enforcement program, which he said "is broken" considering there have been no hearings before the infractions committee in almost a year even though he doesn't believe cheating is rampant.
Big 12 assigns 1st female football official
Dallas • The Big 12 Conference has assigned a female official to work one of its games for the first time in league history.
Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Monday that Catherine "Cat" Conti will be on the crew for Kansas' season opener at home Sept. 6 against Southeast Missouri State.
While calling this a good opportunity for Conti and the league, Bowlsby says Big 12 officiating supervisor Walt Anderson assigned Conti "because she is just a darned good official."
Bowlsby says Conti, a Southland Conference official, has paid her dues.