Bob Bowlsby to lead Big 12

Stanford Cardinal athletic director Bob Bowlsy has been named Big 12 Conference commissioner, board of directors chairman Burns Hargis announced Thursday.

Bowlsby will replace Dan Beebe, who was fired last year. Chuck Neinas has been serving as the interim commissioner.

"The institutions of the Big 12 wanted a Commissioner that could take us to the next era as a conference with the addition of TCU and WVU, and we unanimously agreed Bob is that leader," Hargis, who is president of Oklahoma State University, said in a statement. "The search committee looked for a candidate that has a vision for the next generation of college athletics, and his credentials and ideas exceeded this. He understands enhancing athletic competition among conference schools, the challenge of balancing academics and athletics for our student-athletes, and working with our broadcast and bowl partners."

Bowlsby is looking forward to leading the Big 12.

"I am proud to have been selected to lead the Big 12 Conference as its Commissioner," he said in a statement. "The member institutions represent the best in competitive intercollegiate athletics, and they occupy a prominent place in the history of sports in America. I am excited to work with a very talented and committed group of Presidents and Chancellors to advance the Conference on the national sports landscape. Additionally, the directors of athletics, senior woman's administrators, faculty athletics representatives, coaches and conference office staff are among the very best in the country. The future is exceedingly bright and I look forward to engaging with my colleagues to achieve great things in the years ahead."

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 told ESPN.com's Andy Katz that Bowlsby 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.

Bowlsby also is a former chairman of the NCAA men's basketball committee.

Bowlsby became Stanford's athletic director in spring 2006 after serving in the same capacity at Iowa from 1991-2006. He is highly respected within the NCAA and with the United States Olympic Committee after serving on its board of directors.

The Big 12 is on the verge of finalizing a new television contract, and the league exhibited a strong sense of stability at its league meetings this week.

The league lost Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, but replaced those schools with tradition-rich West Virginia and football power TCU to maintain a 10-team format. Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas have continued to pledge allegiance to the conference.