As first reported by ESPN's Andy Katz, Stanford Cardinal Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby was offered the position of Big 12 Commissioner on Friday while Katz and CBS Sports' Bryan Fischer (via Brett McMurphy) confirmed that Bowlsby would accept the position and that a press conference was scheduled for Friday to announce the hire. You can read Bowlsby's biography at the Stanford website.
This is from the Katz article, but it appears that Bowlsby has the credentials to be the Big 12 Commissioner:
Bowlsby was in Phoenix the past few days as the Big 12 and Pac 12 meetings overlapped. Bowlsby has a strong relationship with Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott. Bowlsby was on the search committee that discovered Scott, with the aid of search firm executive Jed Hughes who has handled both searches for the Big 12 and Pac 12 commissioner's jobs. Hughes was at a different firm for the Pac 12 search firm than he is for the Big 12 search.
Bowlsby has been highly respected by his Pac 12 colleagues, and sources said he had a strong endorsement from Scott.
Bowlsby also was influential in the Pac 12 negotiating a new television agreement that will show all its games next season on a number of networks, from ESPN, to Fox, to the new Pac-12 network.
It seems that there are two issues that are still hanging over the head of the Big 12: 1) The possibility of further expansion; and 2) A new television contract.
I hope that Bowlsby is as aggressive as Scott has been in terms of bettering the conference and I hope it's a given that the Big 12 will look to Louisville and Cincinnati (or a similar school) to get back to twelve conference members and then be done. I'm more than happy with 12 as there's a fine line between adding strong members and diluting the conference.
The other issue hanging over the Big 12's head is the seemingly imminent television deal that was reported by the Sports Business Journal back in March:
That’s because the deal, which still is weeks away from being signed, is expected to have ESPN and Fox Sports sharing some broadcast and cable programming rights, like they do in the new agreement with the Pac-12. Currently, ESPN holds the broadcast rights for Big 12 games, and Fox Sports holds the cable rights for football.
The Big 12’s extension with ESPN would take the league’s partnership with the network to 2025. The two contracts combined would run concurrently for 13 more years and pay the conference a total of $2.5 billion. The breakdown works out to roughly $1.3 billion from ESPN and $1.2 billion from Fox.
I can't imagine that out-going Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas would have finalized any sort of television deal without a permanent replacement commissioner on hand and I wonder if it's prudent to finalize a television deal without knowing if the conference will continue forward with ten members or expand back to twelve. Of course there can be exceptions in the television contracts to be able to renegotiate should the conference add additional schools, but it would seem that if Bowlsby follows what Scott did, he'll get the conference in place before finalizing a television deal in place.