Ex-Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby named interim AD at Northern Iowa

Former Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is going back to his roots, as he'll return to Northern Iowa to serve as interim athletic director, the university announced Wednesday.

Bowlsby, 71, first became an athletic director at Northern Iowa in 1983. He went on to a decorated career in college athletics that included stops at Iowa, Stanford and the Big 12.

He retired from the Big 12 in 2022, but Bowlsby, a native of Waterloo, Iowa, decided to go back because of the pull of the institution that helped launch his career.

"Very few opportunities could have lured me out of retirement, even on a short-term basis," Bowlsby said. "UNI gave me such a remarkable opportunity as a young professional in collegiate athletics for which I'm eternally grateful. So much of what I learned at UNI helped guide my decisions throughout my career journey. I owe a great deal to UNI, and it is my distinct pleasure to serve in this interim role until the position can be filled on a full-time basis."

He takes the spot of David Harris, who left to become the athletic director at Tulane . Bowlsby helped turn UNI into an incubator for athletic directors, as Troy Dannen also left UNI for Tulane and is now the athletic director at Washington.

UNI has launched a national search to replace Harris, and Bowlsby will stay in that role until the search is complete. Bowlsby is in the Northern Iowa Hall of Fame and is on the steering committee for the school's Our Tomorrow Campaign, which aims to raise $250 million.