Incoming Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark said that his experience with Roc Nation Sports will help the league when it comes to Name, Image and Likeness in college athletics.
That experience, Yormark believes, uniquely positions him to help the Big 12 Conference navigate a space that is exploding at a rate that conferences cannot adapt to one year in.
“I’m an advocate of NIL,” Yormark said at Big 12 Media Days on Wednesday. “I’ve gotten my feet wet to some degree in Roc Nation, where we have been engaged with NIL. I think there needs to be guardrails. There probably needs to be uniformity, and maybe the conference needs to take a bigger role in what NIL looks like.”
Name, Image and Likeness is something that college athletics has struggled with since the NCAA v. Alston ruling last year, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the NCAA could not bar student-athletes from profiting off their own name, image and likeness.
Since then, athletics like former Kansas State guard Nijel Pack have signed NIL deals that are close to $1 million, and NIL collectives have popped up at several Big 12 schools, including Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
There is little management of the space from an NCAA perspective, something that outgoing Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby hopes changes in the future.
“There are a lot of people that have their fingers in it from collectives to boosters to other people,” Bowlsby said to Chip Brown of 247Sports.com. “Athletic director jobs are getting more difficult all the time because of the outside influences.”
Yormark joins the Big 12 at a time of tremendous change. Last year, Oklahoma and Texas announced it would leave the league to join the SEC on July 1, 2025. In response, the Big 12 invited BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to join the conference next July.
The day after Yormark’s hiring was announced both USC and UCLA announced it was leaving for the Big Ten in 2024, setting off another potential moves in conference realignment. The Big 12 is already reportedly discussing expansion with multiple Pac-12 schools, including Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah. The Big 12 has also reportedly had discussions with SMU.
There are also discussions of a partnership between the Pac-12 and the ACC that would create a ‘championship game’ and crossover games between the two conferences.
The Big 12 Conference announced Yormark’s hiring on June 29 to replace Bob Bowlsby, who has served as the Big 12’s commissioner for the past decade. Yormark’s contract was for five years and is expected to start around Aug. 1.
Bowlsby will transition into an advisory role.
Yormark joins the Big 12 from Roc Nation, where he served as chief operating officer and co-CEO of Roc Nation Unified, the commercial side of the business.
Yormark, a graduate of Indiana University, began his sports career in 1988, working in the ticket office for the New Jersey Nets. By 2005 and through 2019, Yormark served as CEO of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, where he oversaw their move from New Jersey to Brooklyn, building the first new arena in New York City in 60 years and re-launching the Nets organization and brand in Brooklyn.
Prior to joining the Nets, Yormark served as vice president of corporate sponsorships for NASCAR, where he oversaw a $750 million partnership agreement, the largest in history at that time, that gave Nextel Communications the naming rights to its premier racing series.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.