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Big 12 tabs new conference commissioner

Markel Brown, Thaddeus Young, Brett Yormark, Laura Atkinson, Anthony Atkinson
Posted at 9:48 PM, Jun 29, 2022

IRVING, Texas — The Big XII Conference has named Brett Yormark its fifth Commissioner, the league's Board of Directors announced Wednesday. Yormark succeeds Bob Bowlsby, who served as the conference's leader for a decade.

In a statement, Texas Tech University President and Big XII Conference Board Chair Lawrence Schovanec said, "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."

Yormark last worked as the chief operating officer of Roc Nation Unified, the commercial side of rapper Jay-Z's sports and entertainment business. Prior to his time with Roc Nation, he served as CEO of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, where he oversaw the team's move from New Jersey to Brooklyn.

The Big 12 hired Yormark in the midst of uncertainty regarding its future. Last summer, the conference's two primary revenue generators, the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma, announced plans to move to the Southeastern Conference when the Big XII's grant of rights expires in 2025.

In the months since, the conference reached deals with BYU, Cincinnati, Central Florida and Houston, allowing them to join the conference starting in the fall of 2023.

The Big 12 Commissioner search was led by the conference's Executive Committee, which includes Schovanec, Baylor President Linda Livingstone and Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod, with the assistance of national search firm TurnkeyZRG.

Likely, the most pivotal moment of Yormark's early term in the Big XII will come when the conference must renew its grant of rights agreement. This new contract will help determine the financial payout to member institutions from things like television revenue.

For his part, Yormark has dealt with rights agreements in the past. As vice president of corporate sponsorships for NASCAR, he oversaw a $750 million partnership agreement that gave Nextel Communications the naming rights to its premier racing series. It was the largest such agreement in history at that time.

Eric Shanks, the current CEO of Fox Sports and a major player in the television rights discussion, said in a statement, "Brett is a talented and innovative executive who brings a remarkably unique perspective to the position. Under his leadership and vision, the conference is set up for success, and we look forward to continuing to build on our relationship as a premier partner of the Big 12."

Yormark's first day as conference commissioner is set for August 1, 2022. He plans to attend Big XII Media Days in Arlington on July 17-18