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Big 12 Names Brett Yormark as Conference’s Fifth Commissioner

It’s official.

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[Devin Wilber/PFB]

It’s official, the Big 12 has hired someone away from Jay-Z to become the conference’s newest commissioner.

Brett Yormark signed a five-year deal (starting Aug. 1) to become the fifth commissioner in the Big 12’s history, the league announced Wednesday. He joins after serving as the chief operating officer with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, a record label/sports management company/entertainment company.

“In Brett Yormark, we have chosen a highly adaptable leader who thrives in dynamic times,” said Big 12 Conference Board Chair Lawrence Schovanec. “The landscape of college athletics is evolving to look more like the world Brett has been leading. 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.”

Before his time with Roc Nation, Yormark was CEO of the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center. He was in that role from 2005-19, overseeing the Nets’ move from New Jersey to Brooklyn and the building of the first arena in New York City in 60 years. He worked his way up to that spot, starting in the Nets’ ticket office in 1988.

Yormark also spent time as the vice president of corporate sponsorships for NASCAR. He oversaw a $750 million partnership agreement, the largest in history at that time, that gave Nextel Communications the naming rights to its premier racing series.

“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.”

Yormark joins in a pivotal time in the conference’s history. On top of NIL turning the college athletic landscape upside down, the Big 12 is going through realignment. Oklahoma and Texas are leaving for the SEC sometime between now and 2025, and UCF, Houston, Cincinnati and BYU are set to join the conference next summer.

Yormark replaces Bob Bowlsby as conference commissioner, after the Big 12 announced in early April that Bowlsby was set to step down. Bowlsby will, though, stay on in an interim role, subject to the mutual agreement of Yormark and Bowlsby.

“Brett is one of the most skilled and knowledgeable executives in sports and entertainment,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.  “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.”

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