IRVING, Texas - When first approached about becoming the next commissioner of the Big 12 Conference, Bob Bowlsby admitted that he wasn't sure if it was a job he wanted.
"I do my research," he said. "I came in with some reservations. I had a vision of this conference of being unstable. But what I found instead was a group of chief executive officers that were very committed to one another and very committed to the best principles of collegiate athletics. I was very quickly put at ease.
"After talking with the presidents and those around the Conference who I know, I started to understand that these are 10 schools that want to stay together and want to do great things. This group of schools is committed and I'll have all the support I need. I believe the future is exceedingly bright. I am very enthusiastic and bullish about the future of the Big 12."
Bowlsby was announced as the Big 12's fourth full-time commissioner Thursday. On Friday at the Conference headquarters, he was formally introduced, conducted media interviews and met with the staff.
Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis, chairman of the Big 12 board of directors, said that it's the start of a brave new day for the Big 12. Bowlsby will officially take over on June 15.
"We were looking for a leader to take us to the next level in collegiate athletics," Hargis said. "During our search one name kept coming up: Bob Bowlsby. He has been a real leader and chaired nearly every important committee in the NCAA. That means his peers have great respect for him.
"This is a great conference and it deserves a great leader. Bob Bowlsby is that leader."
Hargis also pointed out that Bowlsby was a key in the formation of the Big Ten Network and the Pac-12 Conference's network that will make its debut soon. That experience plus his work as the athletic director at Stanford the last six years and Iowa the 15 years prior to that gives Bowlsby a perfect skill set to lead the Big 12.
"We need to do the branding and messaging that demonstrates and proliferates the solidarity that I've found from talking to folks in the Big 12," Bowlsby said. "We have to shout it from the rooftops. This is a group of 10 schools that are going to do great things, support one another and move forward together.
"I think the Big 12 can do anything the Big 12 wants to do. There are terrific universities and great sports programs and I think the world is our oyster. The landscape is changing quickly and we're going to have to change with it. I am very excited about the group that we're going to go to battle with."
Bowlsby, who chaired the search that resulted in Pacific-12 Conference hiring Larry Scott, was contacted by an executive search firm about the Big 12 commissioner job. Hargis said the search was "deliberate and thorough." Once the search narrowed, Bowlsby became the main target just over a week ago.
The Big 12's previous leaders had past experience as commissioners. Bowlsby admits that taking over the Big 12 will require adjustments that he is prepared and excited to make.
"I think this is a terrific challenge," Bowlsby said. "The biggest adjustment will be working for 10 presidents instead of working for one president. I've always considered myself a good communicator. We have some serious issues to handle over the next 18 months. It's my responsibility to shape the discussion."
"I've been on a campus for 30 years. That gives me some great perspective but I'll have to learn the rhythms and the nuances of a conference office. It's a different challenge. I think you do your best work when you stretch; I'm best when not in my comfort zone. I expect to work another 10 years and work those 10 years at the Big 12 Conference."