The Big 12 officially has new leadership after the conference announced Wednesday that it named Brett Yormark its new commissioner.
Yormark will become the league’s fifth commissioner on Aug. 1 as he replaces Bob Bowlsby. He brings a wealth of experience in the sports world to the Big 12 from a career that spans over three decades.
The graduate of Indiana University started his sports career in 1988, selling tickets for the New Jersey Nets. After a successful stint as NASCAR’s vice president of corporate sponsorships, he returned to the Nets and rose to become the franchise’s CEO in 2005. Yormark helped facilitate a massive overhaul of the Nets, including the construction of the Barclays Center and their move to Brooklyn in 2012.
Yormark left the Nets in 2019 to serve as the chief operating officer of Roc Nation and co-CEO of Roc Nation Unified, an agency founded by rapper Jay-Z in 2008.
“Brett is one of the most skilled and knowledgeable executives in sports and entertainment,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “His decades of operational experience, relentless work ethic and strong industry relationships will be of enormous value to the Big 12, its schools and fans.”
Yormark’s hire signals a new direction for the Big 12 as the league and the college sports world enter a new era. Bowlsby, his predecessor, took the commissioner position from a higher education background, previously serving as the athletic director at the University of Northern Iowa, the University of Iowa and Stanford before joining the Big 12 in 2012.
Yormark, however, has an extensive background in the business side of the sports industry with a track record of fostering blockbuster partnership agreements and helping entities adapt to new environments.
“In Brett Yormark, we have chosen a highly adaptable leader who thrives in dynamic times. The landscape of college athletics is evolving to look more like the world Brett has been leading,” said Lawrence Schovanec, President of Texas Tech University and Chair of the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors. “He’s authentic and genuine in the way he builds relationships and partnerships, and he works relentlessly to deliver impact. As Brett immerses himself in college sports and connects with all our stakeholders, he will bring a fresh approach and dynamic energy to the Big 12 as we engage a new generation of student-athletes and fans.”
Yormark signed a five-year contract with the Big 12, while Bowlsby will transition to an interim role.
“Thank you to the Big 12 Board, the ADs, the student-athletes, the whole Conference for giving me a chance to support what they all do,” Yormark said. “I’m here to listen, learn, find ways to add value, add resources and try to help shine a light on the importance of college athletics. I look forward to leveraging my experience and network alongside our presidents, chancellors and athletic directors to shape the future of the Big 12 brand and emphasize our collective strengths.”