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Big 12 announces commissioner Bob Bowlsby will step down this year

Bowlsby will remain in his current role until a new commissioner is named.

IRVING, Texas — The Big 12 Conference will soon have a new commissioner.

On Tuesday, the league office announced its commissioner, Bob Bowlsby, will step away from his role as the Big 12's leader later this year after 10 years in the position.

According to the announcement, Bowlsby will remain in his current position until a replacement is named and then transition to a new interim position with the Big 12, at the conference's request.

"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 in a statement.

Bowlsby faced a large amount of criticism when Texas and Oklahoma announced in late July they would not be renewing their grant of rights with the Big 12 and leave for the SEC no later than 2025. The announcement came as a shock to everyone in the conference, including Bowlsby.

In early September, the conference announced it would add four new members (UCF, Cincinnati, Houston and BYU) and bring its total membership to 12 schools for the first time since before Bowlsby's tenure as commissioner.

"I truly believe the Big 12 and our member institutions are in a strong position now and as we look into the future," Bowlsby continued in his statement. "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."

The four new members will join the Big 12 no later than the 2024-25 academic year.

Athletically, the Big 12 has seen wide-ranging success in Bowlsby's time as commissioner. Monday, Kansas won the men's basketball national championship, the second-straight year a Big 12 school won the honor after Baylor's title in 2021.

A Big 12 team has played in four-straight men's Final Fours, won two of the past five Heisman Trophies in football and Oklahoma made the College Football Playoff four times in the first eight years of the playoff's existence.

Texas Tech University president Lawrence Schovanec, chair of the Big 12 Board of Directors, said in a statement, "On behalf of the Big 12 Conference, I want to extend my sincere appreciation to Commissioner Bowlsby for his outstanding leadership over the last decade. Bob has consistently driven distributable revenue growth for the Conference's member institutions, has stood strong during turbulent times in the world of collegiate sports, has led innovation within collegiate athletics, and has worked tirelessly to ensure the stability and future of the Big 12 Conference."

Shortly after taking over as commissioner, Bowlsby helped negotiate a 12-year comprehensive media rights agreement with ESPN and Fox Sports, eventually expanding to the Big 12 Now distribution platform on streaming service ESPN+.

Bowlsby also led the league through the re-launch of its conference championship football game in 2017 after the NCAA nixed the 12-team membership minimum previously in place to hold the game.

Before his role with the Big 12, Bowlsby spent six years as the athletic director at Stanford, 15 in the same role at Iowa and seven years in that position at Northern Iowa.

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