Bowlsby to step away from Big 12 commish role

    Dave Wilson is an editor for ESPN.com since 2010. He previously worked at The Dallas Morning News, San Diego Union-Tribune and Las Vegas Sun.

Bob Bowlsby, who has led the Big 12 since 2012, and most recently steered it through the tumultuous announcement of the departures of Texas and Oklahoma, will “step away from the Commissioner’s chair” later this year, the league announced on Tuesday.

Bowlsby will remain at the conference helm until a new commissioner is selected and then will transition to a new role in the league’s office, the announcement 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,” Bowlsby said.

Last year, after Texas and Oklahoma — the league’s two most prominent members — announced they were bolting for the SEC, Bowlsby steadied 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 remain until their Big 12 rights expire in 2025.

“The Big 12 will soon bring in our four new members and negotiate a new grant of rights and media rights agreements,” Bowlsby added in the statement. “I truly believe the Big 12 and our member institutions are in a strong position now and as we look into the future. As such, 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 was appointed commissioner in 2012, following defections from Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado and Texas A&M to other leagues. He added TCU and West Virginia and was able to maintain the Big 12’s role as a Power 5 league and reinstated the conference’s title game in 2017.

During Bowlsby’s tenure, the Big 12 has won 25 NCAA team national championships, including the past two men’s basketball champions in Kansas and Baylor.

The conference said a national search will begin for its next commissioner in the next few weeks.

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