Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby was formally introduced as the Big 12's new commissioner Friday morning.
Bowlsby says he was initially apprehensive when he first met with a group of Big 12 school presidents about becoming commissioner. Like many other people, Bowlsby had an image of the Big 12 as being unstable after losing four schools over a two-year period. He says he found a group committed to each other and it put him at ease.
"I am especially pleased we have chosen one of the country's most respected athletics directors to lead us," Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger said. "Bob Bowlsby has a solid vision and tremendous leadership qualities. This is a great day for the Big 12. There are a lot of good things happening in this conference, and he is the right person to lead us as we begin a new era of competitive and academic excellence."
Bowlsby will take over the Big 12 June 15. He takes over for interim-commissioner Chuck Neinas, who replaced Dan Beebe after he was ousted amid conference turmoil last year.
Neinas is largely credited with saving and stabilizing the conference after the departures of Colorado, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Missouri.
TCU and West Virginia will join the Big 12 in July.
The Big 12 is also working toward a new television deal with ESPN, and Neinas was pushing members to agree to a long-term grant of media rights to the league that would make it all but impossible for schools to bolt.
No deal has been struck yet, but that will likely be among the first items on the agenda for the next commissioner. Bowlsby was involved in a similar TV deal with the Pac-12 at Stanford.
Bowlsby is a nationally respected college administrator who was hired away from Iowa in 2006 after 15 years spent running the Hawkeyes' athletic department.
Of all the decisions he made at Stanford, fans will forever remember his hiring of Jim Harbaugh in 2006. Harbaugh built the football program into a national power, winning the Orange Bowl over Virginia Tech in 2011 and finishing fourth in the final AP poll.
Bowlsby also hired offensive coordinator David Shaw last year to replace Harbaugh, who departed to the San Francisco 49ers. Shaw kept the Cardinal on track, going 11-2, including an overtime loss in the Fiesta Bowl to Oklahoma State. Andrew Luck also finished Heisman Trophy runner-up both seasons.
Stanford's rigorous academic standards present unique circumstances, yet the school has won the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup 17 straight years. The award is given annually by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics to the program with the most success in all sports.
Stanford is also one of the country's largest programs with 35 sports, including 19 for women. Stanford sent more athletes to the 2008 Beijing Olympics than any other college in the U.S, winning 25 Olympic medals. If Stanford were a country, it would have ranked 11th — tying with Japan — in total medals.
*Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.