Welp, it seems like the Big 12 had one main requirement for the person hired to succeed Bob Bowlsby as its next commissioner: don’t be Bob Bowlsby.
Brett Yormark, the COO of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, is finalizing a deal to be the new leader of the Power 5 league, sources tell Sports Illustrated, a stunning move that brings yet another outsider into college sports’ most exclusive and powerful group.
Yormark, 55, has spent the last three years at Roc Nation, originally as co-CEO with twin brother Michael. In his various roles at Roc Nation, he’s worked with artists, athletes, leagues, teams and brands and oversees sponsorship, licensing, content partnerships and brand strategy. These are essential elements and qualities especially beneficial in an ever-changing college sports landscape that entered a new phase last July with the lifting of the NCAA’s amateurism rules. The era of name, image and likeness (NIL) has brought legalized athlete pay, agent involvement and player branding never before seen in college sports.
… Yormark has little if any college sports experience but he’s been integral in professional basketball. Before joining Roc Nation in 2019, he spent 14 years as CEO of BSE Global, which manages the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets. Under his leadership, Barclays secured agreements to host NCAA men’s basketball tournament games, the ACC men’s basketball tournament and several high-profile non-conference matchups in the sport involving Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and North Carolina. The Nets, meanwhile, moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn under his watch.
Prior to that, Yormark worked for NASCAR for six years, where he helped build the stock-car racing company into a major sports property.
So, he’s moved a sports franchise, helped NASCAR go from a regional property to a national one and knows his way around branding an athlete. Sounds like a man for our times.
He also sounds like a guy who will be open to joining the Alliance, which already has two commissioners with little to no prior experience in college sports. I can’t wait to hear him dictate terms to Greg Sankey.