The Big 12 introduced Bob Bowlsby as its new commissioner today in a press conference streamed live, followed by a call with media.
Bowlsby cited the draw of a new challenge and the strength of the Big 12 as reasons for accepting the position and leaving Stanford, where he had been athletic director for the last six years.
He also answered multiple questions on one of the biggest still-looming questions out there: Big 12 expansion.
West Virginia, of course, went to great lengths to join by July 1, but the big question is does expansion stop there?
Bowlsby said he will not presume what direction the league will go in.
“As you consider expansion, you have to consider the roots of this league. There’s nothing magic about 11, 12 or 10 teams,” said Bowlsby. “I come in with no pre-conceived notions as to what the right number is.”
In regards to West Virginia, he mentioned his relationship with AD Oliver Luck, who is of course the father of Stanford product Andrew Luck.
“The addition of West Virginia and TCU are two terrific additions. I have the unique experience of having Oliver Luck not only as a colleague, but as the parent of a student-athlete at our institution. I know him very well and look forward to working with him as well as President Clements.”
He also addressed how the Big 12 can help West Virginia feel like a full member in the Big 12, despite its geographic isolation.
“It’s a great point. I think because of that we do need to think about how to do that," said Bowlsby. "It isn’t a situation where they’re going to have a natural rival in the state next door. Their backyard brawl with Pittsburgh is natural geographically but it isn’t evident there’s the same kind of geographic opportunity with a Big 12 team.”
“Having said that, I think it’s all about high quality competition. For some of the non revenue and Olympic sports it’s going to be a challenge. We’re going to have to think innovatively. It isn’t without its challenges. I just think they’re a really good fit competitively. I like the leadership of their athletics program a lot. I just think they’re going to be a really good fit going forward.”
Luck also had this to say about Bowlsby in a statement:
"I first met Bob five years ago when Andrew was being recruited by Stanford. He is an excellent choice for Big 12 Commissioner and will further enhance the cohesiveness of the conference. I have had two of my children compete as varsity athletes at Stanford, and I know how well-rounded the department was under his leadership. Stanford athletics has enjoyed great success with Bob at the helm, and I believe this will translate over to the Big 12. As evident in Stanford's many Director's Cup wins in recent years for on-field performance, I believe all sports in the Big 12 will flourish under Bob Bowlsby."