Stanford Athletics Director Bob Bowlsby to depart for Big 12

Bob Bowlsby, who has served as Stanford's Jaquish and Kenninger Director of Athletics since April 2006, will leave the university next month to assume a new post as commissioner of the Big 12 Conference.

"We're grateful to Bob Bowlsby for his leadership of Stanford Athletics over the past six years," said Stanford Provost and Acting President John Etchemendy. "Bob has been an extraordinary advocate for our student athletes and has enhanced Stanford's programs both athletically and academically. Bob has a deep knowledge about collegiate athletics and a commitment to integrity in all that he does. He has laid a tremendous foundation from which Stanford can continue to build. We're sorry to see him go, but this is a tremendous opportunity for him, and we wish him and the Big 12 all the best."

L.A. CiceroBob Bowlsby portrait

Under Bob Bowlsby's leadership, Stanford teams won 10 NCAA championships and the department claimed seven Directors' Cup trophies.

Etchemendy will direct a search for a successor to lead the Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation, which supports 35 varsity sports as well as campus-wide recreation, fitness and wellness programs. Bowlsby expects to depart the university in mid-June.

"I have been honored to have served Stanford University. It has been a productive and an enjoyable period of time and Stanford will always be a part of me," Bowlsby said. "The university has a rich history of successfully merging world-class academics and world-class athletics and I am very proud to have had the opportunity to participate in the extraordinary achievements of our student-athletes and coaches. I will always be grateful to the Stanford alumni and fans for making me feel so welcome and for supporting our programs in ways that helped to create the margin of victory that we enjoyed so often."

Under Bowlsby's leadership, Stanford teams won 10 NCAA championships and the department claimed seven Directors' Cup trophies, which are awarded to the top overall athletic program in the country. Stanford student-athletes continue to excel in their academic endeavors. All 35 athletic programs exceeded the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate report in 2011, including five teams that earned perfect scores of 100 percent.

Bowlsby worked closely with Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott in shaping the conference's groundbreaking multimedia rights agreement that will extend through 2024.

Bowlsby also has presided over the resurgence of Stanford's football program. After seven consecutive losing seasons from 2002 to 2008, the Cardinal has made bowl trips in each of the last three seasons, including appearances in the 2011 Orange Bowl and 2012 Fiesta Bowl.

Stanford won a school-record 12 games in 2010, capped off by an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech, and followed with an 11-2 campaign last season that culminated with the program's second consecutive BCS bowl appearance. Stanford's 31-8 (.795) record over the last three seasons ranks as the eighth-best winning percentage among all FBS teams, while its win total is the second highest in the Pac-12 Conference.

In December 2006, Bowlsby hired former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh, who compiled a 29-21 record in his four-year stay on the Farm. After Harbaugh was named the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Bowlsby ushered in a new era of Stanford football when he named Stanford alumnus David Shaw to the head coaching position. Shaw became just the ninth major head coach in the history of college football to post 11 or more wins in his first season as head coach.

"Bob Bowlsby has my admiration as a Stanford alumnus for his leadership through difficult economic times for our athletic department," said Coach Shaw. "As head football coach, he has my gratitude for his continuous efforts to bolster and support our football program. As a friend, I wish him great success."

Bowlsby also saw Stanford's women's basketball team make five straight Final Four appearances and the men's program win the National Invitation Tournament this past season.

"I am very sad to see Bob leave Stanford. I loved working for Bob. He is a great supporter of women's basketball and women's athletics here at Stanford," said Tara VanDerveer, coach of Stanford women's basketball. "He is direct, a problem-solver, and a man of integrity. The Big 12 is fortunate to have him and he will do a great job."

Teams that won NCAA titles during Bowlsby's tenure include Women's Cross Country and Men's Golf, 2006-07; Women's Cross Country, 2007-08; Men's Gymnastics and Women's Rowing, 2008-09; Men's Volleyball and Women's Tennis, 2010; Men's Gymnastics and Women's Water Polo, 2010-11; Women's Soccer, 2011. Two teams won non-NCAA national championships: Synchronized Swimming in 2008 and Lightweight Eight women's rowing in 2010.

Prior to his appointment at Stanford, Bowlsby served as director of athletics at the University of Iowa for nearly 15 years, and also served in the same role at the University of Northern Iowa from 1984 to 2006.

Lisa Lapin, University Communications: (650) 725-5456, lapin@stanford.edu