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Brett Yormark Announced as Next Big 12 Commissioner: Quotes and Notes

June 29, 2022

Brett Yormark, former COO and co-CEO of Roc Nation Unified, was named the fifth commissioner in Big 12 Conference history on Wednesday morning.

Yormark has also held the position of CEO for the Brooklyn Nets from 2005-2019. During that time the Nets made the move from New Jersey to Brooklyn and opened the Barclays Center. He has also held an executive position with NASCAR and he graduated from Indiana University.

The official press release announcing Yormark’s hire included the following quotes:

NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver:

“Brett is one of the most skilled and knowledgeable executives in sports and entertainment. His decades of operational experience, relentless work ethic, and strong industry relationships will be of enormous value to the Big 12, its schools, and fans.”

In the age of player empowerment and social activism, the NBA has been ahead of the curve. Whether that is what is best for a sports league can be questioned, but with NIL and the transfer portal taking over college sports just after the wave of social justice and equality marches, patches, etc. a man like Yormark with experience from the NBA should help the conference navigate these topics moving forward. Especially since the Universities will set the direction on those issues, not the conference.

Fox Sports CEO and Executive Producer, Eric Shanks:

“On behalf of FOX Sports, we’d like to officially congratulate Brett Yormark on being named the new Commissioner of the Big 12. Brett is a talented and innovative executive who brings a remarkably unique perspective to the position. Under his leadership and vision, the conference is set up for success, and we look forward to continuing to build on our relationship as a premier partner of the Big 12.”

A TV partner under a current contract with the conference has to say this. Hopefully, this means a good personal and professional respect between Fox and Yormark. With the Nets and the NBA, he would not have dealt much with Fox I assume, but with NASCAR he dealt with Fox, NBC, and ABC. Yormark has previous experience across the board and knows how to help run a sports organization that is on the opposite side of the spectrum from the NBA. He’s got his bases covered, so he should have the Big 12’s covered just fine.

Texas Tech University President and Big 12 Conference Board Chair, Lawrence Schovanec:

“In Brett Yormark, we have chosen a highly adaptable leader who thrives in dynamic times. The landscape of college athletics is evolving to look more like the world Brett has been leading. He’s authentic and genuine in the way he builds relationships and partnerships, and he works relentlessly to deliver impact. As Brett immerses himself in college sports and connects with all our stakeholders, he will bring a fresh approach and dynamic energy to the Big 12 as we engage a new generation of student-athletes and fans.”

Dr. Linda Livingstone was on the Executive committee with Schovanec and Kansas Chancellor Douglas A. Girod. I trust the process those three plus national search firm TurnkeyZRG went through. They are clearly looking past the immediate future and went for a candidate that they believe can adapt to rapid changes. The “authentic and genuine in the way he builds relationships and partnerships” stands out to me. It sounds like Mack Rhoades. It sounds Baylor, just without Christianity added to it.

New Big 12 Conference Commissioner, Brett Yormark:

“Thank you to the Big 12 Board, the ADs, the student-athletes, and the whole Conference for giving me a chance to support what they all do. I’m here to listen, learn, find ways to add value, add resources and try to help shine a light on the importance of college athletics. I look forward to leveraging my experience and network alongside our presidents, chancellors, and athletic directors to shape the future of the Big 12 brand and emphasize our collective strengths.”

Saying listen first is smart. He better keep his ear to the ground so he does not get blindsided by realignment in the future. The schools that will make up this conference once Texas and Oklahoma leave are already more cohesive, but it is important nonetheless.

Author’s Opinion: Overall, I like the hire. He brings a diverse set of experiences and connections that should help him keep the perspective of all parties in mind. The players’ perspective and more liberal audience view come from his time around the NBA. The conservative audience view comes from his time with NASCAR. And from all these executive positions he has gained insight into marketing, TV right negotiations, and working with other leaders. Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth, but for now, I like the Big 12’s plan with Yormark.

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