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The Big 12 has a new commissioner. What does that mean for Texas?

Joe Cook06/29/22
Article written by:On3 imageJoe Cook

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(Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

Wednesday morning, the Big 12 announced that Brett Yormark will be the conference’s fifth commissioner as chosen by the league’s board of directors. Yormark is thought to be an outsider when it comes to college athletics, considering his experience in the professional sports and player representation spheres. He will assume his post on August 1.

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The realm of college sports is a different animal. But first things first, did Texas, who plans to depart the Big 12 for the SEC, have input on this decision?

When asked via text on Tuesday if he and Oklahoma president Joseph Harroz Jr. were involved in the decision to select Yormark, UT president Jay Hartzell said the following: “Joe Harroz and I remain on the Big 12 board of directors and continue to participate fully in conference governance.”

In the press release that accompanied the announcement, the conference said the board of directors of the ten current Big 12 members participated in the commissioner interview process, along with the four new members of the conference who will enter the Big 12 in 2023. The Big 12’s current membership made the final selection of the commissioner, per the release.

Yormark was previously the COO and president of business operations and strategy at Roc Nation, the entertainment agency founded by music mogul JAY-Z in 2008. Roc Nation is involved in a variety of industries; music, athletics, representation, and even Name, Image, and Likeness. Yormark’s experience in the world of athletics isn’t limited to his work at Roc Nation. He was CEO of the company that manages both the Barclays Center in New York City as well as the Brooklyn Nets.

With Yormark as the choice made following a search run by TurnkeyZRG, it’s the second hire considered to be a deviation from the norm for Power 5 college athletics administration in a year. The Pac-12 brought in George Kliavkoff to be its commissioner beginning last July after he served as president of entertainment and sports for MGM Resorts International.

Yormark will oversee the Big 12 during a time of tremendous intrigue for the conference. Between membership changes, evolving (and expiring) media rights deals, NIL, and more, his time on the job is bound to be eventful.

Why would Big 12 members select Yormark? And what does it mean for Texas?

His experience in the player representation space gives him an understanding of what the NIL landscape is like. Roc Nation’s website even has a section dedicated to college athletes it represents for NIL purposes. He has also negotiated major moves of a different sort in his career, helping the Nets move from New Jersey across the Hudson and East Rivers to Brooklyn.

That experience in player representation and high-stakes sports business negotiations will be of great assistance when Yormark takes Bowlsby’s place at the table on August 1 discuss matters related to the exits of Texas and Oklahoma. Inside Texas has previously reported UT aspires to be in the SEC for the 2024 football season.

Yormark will have experienced administrators across from him in Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte and OU athletic director Joe Castiglione, a duo who clandestinely negotiated a place in the SEC to the utter shock of fellow Big 12 members. Plus, Del Conte helped TCU join the Power 5 ranks over a decade ago. He knows the minutiae of these exit conversations.

Yormark’s job will be pivotal to the future of what will eventually be a 12-team conference for football and basketball, especially considering the league’s expiring media rights deal. A new deal will have to be made without the Big 12’s two largest draws.

What comes next? That remains to be seen and more clarity could come from announcements made by the conference at Big 12 Media Days in Arlington in mid-July.

But now, Texas knows who they’ll be working with during the remainder of the Longhorns’ time in the Big 12. It’s a move they saw coming, but what’s next between the two entities is yet to be determined.