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Big 12 Changes: Bob Bowlsby Extended through June 2025, David Boren Retiring



On Friday, the Big 12 announced that its Board of Directors has come to an agreement with Bob Bowlsby that would keep the current league commissioner in office until June 30, 2025.

The contract ends the same day that the leagues’s current grant of media rights agreement expires. The Big 12’s schools are tied together until then and are apparently riding with Bowlsby to take them to or through whatever occurs down the road.

Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder talked about Bowlsby’s extension.

“I’m extremely excited to know that we’re solidified at the top for the foreseeable future,” said Holder. “I think that bodes well for our conference in these turbulent times. So I’m looking forward to that and I think we’re blessed to have him.”

Bowlsby replaced Dan Beebe as the conference’s fourth commissioner in 2012. He will be 73 when this new contract expires. And he’s confident in the league’s prospects moving forward.

“I’ve been with the Big 12 for a little more than five years and we’ve had our challenges but we’ve also had our successes,” said Bowlsby. “I like the institutions that I work with. I like my colleagues here at the Big 12 office and the contract is coming to a close so we had to either extend it or decide that we weren’t going to extend it.

“I’m pleased that we have, and I’m looking forward to the next eight years leading the conference and looking forward to the things that we’ll achieve.”

The news that Bowlsby is staying put comes just two days after University of Oklahoma president David Boren announced that he would retire at the end of the current 2017-18 school year. The former U.S. senator and Oklahoma governor took the over as university president in 1994. Earlier this year, Boren stepped down as Chairman of the Big 12’s Board of Directors.

Boren is widely considered to have been one of the loudest voices in the room when it comes to the conference’s decision making — and he’s never shied away from offering his opinion. This has made him a polarizing figure.

On one hand, he was one of those in favor of the Big 12’s expansion that never was and was instrumental in the football championship game that will debut this season. He also pushed for a Big 12 Network (which also never came to fruition). But he said things he probably shouldn’t have, as well. He infamously called the Big 12 “psychologically disadvantaged” and always seemed on the edge of lighting a match that led to the powder keg.

It’s hard to say what effect his departure will have on the conference as a whole, but the league will certainly look elsewhere for an unofficial (and official) spokesperson, and that might not be a bad thing. Boren said this week that he’s leaving behind a Big 12 with some hope (sort of).

“If it’s able to flourish and have good athletic records … it’s doing well very well financially, within striking distance of any conference, ahead of two or three of the other Power 5 conferences,” Boren told the Oklahoman. I think there’s still a possible bright future for the Big 12 Conference.”

Neither of these men have ever injected the Big 12 with the juice the conference could use. Now one is retiring and one is signing up for several more years. Bowlsby’s powers as Big 12 commish are probably a bit overstated as he normally just facilitates what athletic directors and presidents of universities pine for. And OU has always been the co-captain of that ship along with Texas. That’s what you get to do when you’re worth a combined $2 billion.

The reality here is that when it comes to Oklahoma State, whoever is hired as the next president in Norman could have a long-lasting impact on what happens to the Cowboys in the future.

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