Change is coming in the Big 12.
The conference announced Tuesday that commissioner Bob Bowlsby will “step away” from his role later this year. Bowlsby will serve as commissioner until his successor is found and then move into a “new interim role” with the conference.
Bowlsby, 70, has been the Big 12’s commissioner since 2012. He previously worked as the athletic director at Northern Iowa, Iowa and Stanford.
In a statement, Bowlsby said, “After more than 40 years of serving in leadership roles in intercollegiate athletics, including the last 10 with the Big 12, and given the major issues that college sports in general and the Big 12 specifically will address in the next several years, I have reached a natural transition point in my tenure as Commissioner, as well as in my career.”
The Big 12 is set to lose Texas and Oklahoma as members while adding BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF. The conference is also on the verge of negotiating pivotal new media rights deals. Bowlsby determined that this is the right time to step aside and open the door for a new leader for the Big 12.
“This is an appropriate time for me to step away from the commissioner’s role so that the next leader of the conference can take the reins on these significant matters that will come to the forefront before the end of the term of my employment agreement in 2025 to set the stage for the Big 12’s future ongoing success,” Bowlsby said.
The Big 12 said it will employ a search firm to assist with the hiring of its next commissioner. The search will begin in the “next few weeks.”
With Bowlsby stepping away, the SEC’s Greg Sankey becomes the longest-tenured Power Five commissioner. Sankey was promoted in 2015 when Mike Slive retired. Since then, Kevin Warren was hired by the Big Ten, Jim Phillips was hired by the ACC and George Kliavkoff was brought in as Pac-12 commissioner. Whoever the Big 12 hires will be the fourth commissioner hired by a Power Five conference since 2020.