Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Big 12 eyeing Brett Yormark, executive at Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, as next commissioner

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USATSI

The Big 12 is targeting Brett Yormark — a longtime Northeastern sports executive and the current COO of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation — to be its next commissioner, league sources tell CBS Sports’s Dennis Dodd. While Yormark has extensive experience in the sports and entertainment industry, he has yet to hold a position of significance in college sports.

Yormark is reportedly in the process of finalizing a deal with the Big 12, which has long been expected to announce its next commissioner by its football media days, scheduled for July 13-14. He originally joined Roc Nation in 2019 as co-CEO of Roc Nation Unified, a division of the company that handles global licensing and brand opportunities, before being promoted to COO of the overall company in January.

Prior to his time at Roc Nation, Yormark spent nearly 15 years leading the Nets as CEO, a job he started in 2005. Yormark oversaw the franchise’s move from New Jersey to Brooklyn as well as construction of the Barclays Center. He only left when a new ownership group purchased the team in 2019. 

Yormark represents another sharp departure from tradition as FBS conferences seek commissioners with varied skillsets entering a critical period for college sports and particularly college football. Yormark will become one of the five or six most powerful voices in the room as major topics including College Football Playoff expansion and expanded players’ rights are addressed in the coming months and years.

Outgoing Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby took the helm of the conference directly from the athletic administration world with tenures as athletic director at both Iowa and Stanford.

However, the Big 12 is sharply turning another direction with this move and looking to an uncertain future that includes negotiations for a new media rights deal, expansion threats and the possibility of Power Five conferences breaking off in the coming years. 

The Pac-12 similarly opted to think outside the box when it searched for a new commissioner last year. Instead of picking another athletic department suit, the Pac-12 hired longtime entertainment executive George Kliavkoff coming off his tenure at MGM. The innovative choice has paid dividends as Pac-12 football and basketball have quickly undergone a change in strategy and investment. 

Out of the three finalists for the Big 12 commissioner job, none worked in the college sports industry, according to Sports Illustrated, which first reported the Big 12’s targeting of Yormark.

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