Bob Bowlsby, who has led the Big 12 since 2012 and most recently coached it during the tumultuous announcement of Texas and Oklahoma departures, will “step away from the commissioner’s chair” later this year, the company has announced. league Tuesday.
Bowlsby will remain in charge of the conference until a new commissioner is selected, then move into a new role on the league office, according to the announcement.
“After more than 40 years of service in leadership roles in intercollegiate athletics, including the last 10 with the Big 12, and considering the major issues that college sports in general and the Big 12 in particular will address over the years, I have reached a natural transition in my tenure as commissioner, as well as in my career,” said Bowlsby.
Last year, after Texas and Oklahoma – the league’s two most prominent members – announced they were battling for the SEC, Bowlsby stabilized the league and engineered the additions of BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston, who will join no later than the 2024-2025 academic year. Texas and Oklahoma have publicly said they will stay until their Big 12 rights expire in 2025.
“The Big 12 will soon be onboarding our four newest members and will be negotiating new rights licensing and media rights agreements,” Bowlsby added in the statement. “I sincerely believe that the Big 12 and our member institutions are in a strong position now and that we look to the future. As such, the time has come for me to step back from the role of Commissioner so that the next Head of the Conference can take the reins of these important issues that will be front and center before the end of the term of my employment contract in 2025 to set the stage for continued Big 12 success in the future.”
Bowlsby was named commissioner in 2012, following defections from Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado and Texas A&M to other leagues. It added TCU and West Virginia and was able to maintain the Big 12’s role as the Power Five league and restored the conference title game in 2017.
During Bowlsby’s tenure, the Big 12 won 25 NCAA national team championships, including basketball’s last two champions, Kansas and Baylor.
The conference said a nationwide search will begin for its next commissioner in the coming weeks.