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Big 12 hires Stanford AD as commissioner

Associated Press Modified: May 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm •  Published: May 3, 2012

West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, who first met Bowlsby when his son was being recruited by Stanford some five years ago, lauded Bowlsby's hiring as the Mountaineers prepare to enter the conference. Luck's daughter, Mary Ellen, is a sophomore on the Cardinal volleyball team.

"He is an excellent choice for Big 12 commissioner and will further enhance the cohesiveness of the conference," Luck said.

Stanford's rigorous academic standards presented unique circumstances, yet the school has won the 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 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.

Stanford teams won 10 NCAA championships during Bowlsby's tenure, plus five straight Final Four appearances by the women's basketball teams.

"I am very sad to see Bob leave Stanford. I loved working for Bob. He is a great supporter of women's basketball and women's athletics here at Stanford," said Hall of Fame women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer. "He is direct, a problem-solver, and a man of integrity. The Big 12 is fortunate to have him and he will do a great job."

Bigger challenges lie ahead for Bowlsby in the Midwest.

The Big 12 was hit hard two years ago and wound up losing Nebraska to the Big Ten, Colorado to the Pac-12 and, as of July 1, Texas A&M and Missouri to the Southeastern Conference. Beebe was booted in September as Oklahoma, Texas and others were flirting with the Pac-12 and the Big 12 seemed on the brink of falling apart.

The conference is reportedly 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 Bowlsby.

That's something he worked closely with Scott to accomplish.

After reaching a 12-year contract worth about $3 billion last year with Fox and ESPN, the Pac-12 announced plans to launch a new conference-owned network to supplement coverage and create more exposure for Pac-12 athletes. The venture will launch this fall with the national cable network, six regional networks and a digital network.

"''We're grateful to Bob Bowlsby for his leadership of Stanford Athletics over the past six years," Stanford Provost and acting President John Etchemendy said in a statement. "We're sorry to see him go, but this is a tremendous opportunity for him, and we wish him and the Big 12 all the best."

Etchemendy will lead a national search for Bowlsby's replacement.


AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley in San Francisco and Betsy Blaney in Lubbock, Texas, contributed to this report.


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