FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2020, file photo, a panel of witnesses, from left, Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, National Collegiate Athletic Association President Mark Emmert, University of Kansas Chancellor Dr. Douglas Girod, National College Players Association Executive Director Ramogi Huma and National Collegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Chair Kendall Spencer, listen during a Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing on intercollegiate athlete compensation on Capitol Hill in Washington. Emmert has been engaging in damage control after people noticed differences between the men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments. A new AP survey of athletic directors and conversations with ADs and conference commissioners during March Madness show concern about what would happen to women's college sports under proposals that would put more money in the pockets of some athletes. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Bob Bowlsby steps down from Big 12

The Big 12 released a statement on Tuesday afternoon stating that Bob Bowlsby will step down from the role of Big 12 commissioner later in 2022.

In the statement from the Big 12, after leaving his position Bowlsby starts transitioning to new interim role within the conference.

Bowlsby’s career as commissioner

Before stepping into this role, he held leadership positions within college sports for more than 40 years. He spent seven years at Northern Iowa as an athletic athletic director, 15 years at Iowa and right before becoming commissioner he worked at Stanford for six years.

In 2012, the Big 12 made the decision to hire him after Dan Beebe stepped down.

As commissioner, Bowlsby wanted to create a partnership with ESPN and FOX Sports. His drive for this partnership resulted in a 12-year comprehensive media contract with both companies. Later in 2019, he helped with expanding the Big 12’s media coverage to ESPN+ where it now has Big 12 Now. On this program, fan can access a variety of Big 12 sporting events.

In addition to making a bigger media presence for the conference, Bowlsby played a part in the formation of the College Football Playoff. His leadership also brought back the Big 12 Football Championship Game in 2017.

Changes within the conference

In the summer of 2021, Texas and Oklahoma announced that they will be departing for the Big 12 to join the SEC. The SEC presidents and chancellors conducted a vote on extending an invitation to both schools and the vote came out unanimous. By 2025, both schools will be members of the SEC.

While the conference lost powerhouse schools, additions to the conference have been made. UCF, BYU, Cincinnati and Houston accepted their invitations and will be joining the conference by 2025.

This past season Cincinnati made it to the College Football playoffs, even though it lost to Alabama. This gave the school a chance to prove itself and it belonged in a bigger conference.

Decisions to leave

After spending 10 years with the conference, Bowlsby decided to step down as commissioner. College sports has evolved in his tenure and issues come and go. However, the issues that college sports experience influenced him in his choice to leave his position.

“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” Bowlsby said.

Schools of the Big 12 released statements about Bowlsby decision. They reflected on his time as commissioner and the help they gained from him.

Future Commissioners

In the Big 12’s statement, an extensive national search will be conducted. Interviews for a new commissioner start within the next few weeks.

About Molly Cooper

Molly is a fourth-year journalism major specializing in sports and media and working on a certificate in sports management at the University of Florida.

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