The Big 12 Conference named Bob Bowlsby new commissioner in an announcement late Thursday afternoon.
Bowlsby comes to the Big 12 from his post as Stanford athletic director, where he led the Cardinal for six years. Prior to his post at Stanford, Bowlsby served 15 years Iowa’s athletic director.
“The institutions of the Big 12 wanted a Commissioner that could take us to the next era as a conference with the addition of TCU and WVU, and we unanimously agreed Bob is that leader,” Big 12 Board of Directors Chairman and Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis said. “The search committee looked for a candidate that has a vision for the next generation of college athletics, and his credentials and ideas exceeded this.
“He understands enhancing athletic competition among conference schools, the challenge of balancing academics and athletics for our student-athletes, and working with our broadcast and bowl partners.”
Bowlsby — who will be the fourth Big 12 commissioner — was set to be introduced late Friday morning, replacing interim commissioner Chuck Neinas, who stepped in after Dan Beebe was fired in September.
“I am proud to have been selected to lead the Big 12 Conference as its Commissioner,” Bowlsby said through a release. “The member institutions represent the best in competitive intercollegiate athletics and they occupy a prominent place in the history of sports in America. I am excited to work with a very talented and committed group of presidents and chancellors to advance the conference on the national sports landscape.
“Additionally, the directors of athletics, senior woman’s administrators, faculty athletics representatives, coaches and conference office staff are among the very best in the country. The future is exceedingly bright and I look forward to engaging with my colleagues to achieve great things in the years ahead.”
Bowlsby will officially begin his duties June 15, as he takes over a league that has changed dramatically in recent years. Conference realignment changed the face of the Big 12 especially, first with the departure of Nebraska to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-12, followed by another wave of defections when Texas A&M and Missouri announced they’d be moving to the SEC at the conclusion of this academic year.
Under Neinas, however, the Big 12 took big steps replace two of its lost membership by adding West Virginia and TCU, both of which will begin play in the Big 12 in the fall.
“All of the institutions of the Big 12 want to recognize Chuck’s great contributions as acting commissioner, helping us during a challenging time and providing a stabilizing force to lead us to today’s announcement,” Hargis said. “We cannot thank him enough for his efforts.”
Bowlsby — from a Waterloo, Iowa — has directed a Stanford athletic department that sponsors 35 varsity sports and has claimed 17 consecutive Learfield Sports Directors Cups, emblematic of the top overall athletics program in the country.
In 2007, Bowlsby appointed to the United States Olympic Committee Board of Directors. In 2002, President George W. Bush selected Bowlsby to be a member of the Commission on Opportunities in Athletics.
Bowlsby — who began his career as Northern Iowa’s AD for seven years — has previously served as president of the NCAA Division I-A Athletics Directors’ Association, chair of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, and chaired the NCAA Management Council. In addition, he has also chaired the NCAA Wrestling Committee, served on NCAA committees on Financial Aid and Amateurism, the Special Committee to Review Amateurism Issues, and the Special Committee to Review Financial Conditions in Athletics.