Bob Bowlsby inducted into Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame

Bob Bowlsby inducted into Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame

Bob Bowlsby ahead of his induction to the MVC Hall of Fame

ST. LOUIS – University of Northern Iowa Interim Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby was formally inducted into the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame in recognition of his lifetime achievements at a Friday event in St. Louis. 

The Waterloo, Iowa native has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in collegiate sports after honing his skills as UNI’s Athletic Director from 1983-91. He was inducted into the University of Northern Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004 and currently serves as a member of the steering committee for UNI’s $300 million Our Tomorrow campaign. 

Bowlsby served as UNI's Assistant Director of Athletics for Facilities from 1981-83 before replacing Stan Sheriff as Athletics Director, directing UNI's 19-sport program and serving as administrative head of the UNI-Dome. During his tenure Bowlsby managed UNI's entry into the Missouri Valley Conference and increased the program's fundraising by 400%.

He was appointed commissioner of the Big 12 Conference in 2012 and served in that capacity for over a decade prior to retiring in 2022. Among his many lasting contributions to that league, he played an integral role in the additions of BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston, helping solidify the Big 12’s future as one of the nation’s premier athletic conferences.

"One of the things that being back at Northern Iowa has shown me is that the vast majority of people involved in intercollegiate athletics — student-athletes and coaches — are there because it's about helping 18-year-old adolescents become 22-year-old adults, and in the process have a great experience with athletics and a great academic experience,” Bowlsby said at his induction. “It continues to be a wonderful springboard for the rest of their lives."

Bowlsby was appointed to the inaugural NCAA Division I Council in 2015. He also served as chair of the Football Oversight Committee which oversees all aspects of collegiate football and reports directly to the NCAA Division I Council. He also played a key role in the formation of the College Football Playoff that began in 2014-15, the first postseason playoff in the history of the sport. 

Prior to his stint as Big 12 Commissioner, Bowlsby spent six years directing a Stanford University athletics department that claimed an unprecedented 17 consecutive Learfield Sports Directors Cups, emblematic of the top overall athletics program in the country. 

Bowlsby arrived at Stanford after a 15-year stint as the Director of Athletics for the University of Iowa. In his final four years, he guided and supervised the merger of the Hawkeye men’s and women’s athletic departments that included 24 varsity sports. In addition, he oversaw the planning, construction and renovation of more than $100 million in campus projects at Iowa, including the refurbishing of Kinnick Stadium. 

A former NCAA student-athlete himself, Bowlsby was a four-year letterman in wrestling at Minnesota State University (Moorhead). He served as captain during his senior year when he won a conference title. In 2013, he received that school’s Alumni Achievement Award and was also named to the NCAA 40th Anniversary Tribute Team, which recognized the 40th anniversary of NCAA Division II competition. Bowlsby was inducted into MSUM’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 and is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023. 

Bowlsby earned his bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University (Moorhead) in 1975 and his master’s degree from the University of Iowa in 1978. He and his wife, Candice, are parents of four adult children and have been blessed with 10 grandchildren.