Brett Yormark Reportedly Will Be Next Big 12 Commissioner; COO of Jay-Z's Roc Nation

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 28, 2022

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Brett Yormark will succeed Bob Bowlsby as commissioner of the Big 12, according to multiple reports.

Yormark is the COO of Roc Nation, the entertainment agency founded by Jay-Z. Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde said Yormark "worked with artists, athletes, leagues, teams and brands and oversees sponsorship, licensing, content partnerships and brand strategy."

That experience will be beneficial in the name, image and likeness era of college athletics.

Bowlsby announced in April he was stepping down as commissioner, having served in the role for 10 years. He's walking away from the Big 12 at a time when the conference is facing an uncertain future.

Oklahoma and Texas are leaving the Big 12, with Cincinnati, Houston and UCF officially joining in 2023 from the American Athletic Conference. BYU will be making the move as well from the West Coast Conference.

While Bowlsby did well to strengthen the depth of the Big 12, the conference is losing its two biggest member schools. The Sooners and Longhorns moved the needle at a disproportionate rate compared to their conference rivals.

Hiring somebody from outside of the college athletics ecosystem could be what the Big 12 needs to discover new ways to maintain its relevance.

The Pac-12 made a similar bet when it hired George Kliavkoff, the president of entertainment and sports at MGM Resorts International, as its new commissioner in May 2021.

The Big 12's media rights deal with ESPN and Fox concludes following the 2024-25 academic year.

Each school received $42.6 million from the conference, the highest annual payout ever for the member institutions. That speaks to the financial health of the Big 12.

Maintaining that upward trajectory could be difficult, however, once Oklahoma and Texas are no longer in the mix. Yormark may have to get creative when negotiating the Big 12's next media deal.

Perhaps the Big 12 pivots away from one of the traditional networks and signs a contract with a streaming platform such as Netflix or Apple TV, the latter of which signed a 10-year, $2.5 billion deal with MLS.

Bowlsby's departure allows his replacement to chart the future of the Big 12, but Yormark won't be afforded much time before he'll have to make some difficult decisions.


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