In April, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced he would step down from that role later this year and remain as an advisor for the rest of his through-2025 contract. The 70-year-old Bowlsby, who had held the Big 12 commissioner’s role since 2012, said in a statement then that it made sense for him to leave that role this year so the next commissioner could handle the pivotal upcoming discussions on media rights. Several key Big 12 figures said then they felt the conference needed to have their new commissioner in place within 90 days to give them time to get up to speed on expansion (they’re adding four schools next year) and media rights (those formal negotiations are scheduled to begin in March 2024), and it now looks like the conference has found the figure they want: 55-year-old Brett Yormark, currently the chief operating officer and president of business operations and strategy at Jay-Z’s Roc Nation agency. Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde have more on that at Sports Illustrated:
Brett Yormark, the COO of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, is finalizing a deal to be the new leader of the Power 5 league, sources tell Sports Illustrated, a stunning move that brings yet another outsider into college sports’ most exclusive and powerful group.
Yormark, 55, has spent the last three years at Roc Nation, originally as co-CEO with twin brother Michael. In his various roles at Roc Nation, he’s worked with artists, athletes, leagues, teams and brands and oversees sponsorship, licensing, content partnerships and brand strategy. These are essential elements and qualities especially beneficial in an ever-changing college sports landscape that entered a new phase last July with the lifting of the NCAA’s amateurism rules. The era of name, image and likeness (NIL) has brought legalized athlete pay, agent involvement and player branding never before seen in college sports.
Yormark is thought of as one of the more connected and bright executives within the entertainment agency industry. He was promoted in January to COO and president of business operations and strategy. Desiree Perez, CEO of Roc Nation, has referred to Yormark as “a fearless leader.”
Bruce Feldman and Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic confirmed that report, and added more on what specifically made Yormark a target for the conference:
The Big 12 conference is targeting Brett Yormark to become its next commissioner, sources confirmed to The Athletic.
Yormark, 55, is the chief operating officer for Roc Nation, an entertainment agency founded by American hip-hop artist Jay-Z. Yormark also had been an executive with the Brooklyn Nets and NASCAR. Sources say Yormark wowed during the process with big ideas, energy and a rolodex unlike anyone else interviewed.
It’s certainly interesting that another Power Five conference is going outside the traditional box of hiring those already working in college sports. The Pac-12 did that last year, bringing in MGM executive George Kliavkoff. And that move seems to have worked out pretty well for the Pac-12 so far, with Kliavkoff receiving plaudits for bold calls like shutting down their expensive San Francisco offices and switching to a work-from-home model. That conference still faces issues, but there seems to be more faith in their ability to handle them under Kliavkoff than there was under predecessor Larry Scott. If the Big 12 is able to finalize a contract with Yormark, we’ll see if he is able to do something similar there.