Bob Bowlsby [600x400] - Copy
Bob Bowlsby [600x400] - Copy (Credit: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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Former Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who stepped down from his position in 2022, was paid more than $17.2 million in total compensation for his final year, according to the league's most recent tax records, which were obtained on Thursday by ESPN.

Bowlsby was paid $12.26 million for the three years remaining on his contract, and the Big 12 also paid Bowlsby $15,000 for six months of consulting, according to a conference spokesperson. The Big 12 also paid Bowlsby another $3.337 million "vested," according to the league. That includes $2.6 million the conference had reported as deferred compensation in prior years' tax filings.

According to USA Today, which first reported the numbers, former Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott received two severance payments each for $1.5 million in 2021 and 2022. Former ACC commissioner John Swofford, who retired in June 2021 after 24 years, received nearly $2.6 million in 2022 from the ACC, according to USA Today, and almost all of it was reported as base pay.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany earned nearly $5.9 million in 2022, according to USA Today, including $2.8 million in deferred compensation reported on prior years' returns. In July 2015, Delany became eligible for more than $20 million in future bonuses and will be receiving them over a 10-year span, through the 2027 calendar year.

Bowlsby was appointed commissioner in 2012, following defections from Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado and Texas A&M to other leagues. He added TCU and West Virginia and was able to maintain the Big 12's role as a Power 5 league and reinstated the conference's title game in 2017.

In April 2022, the Big 12 announced Bowlsby would "step away" from his job leading the league. The Big 12, which doesn't have to disclose its employment agreements because it's a private, non-profit organization, declined to provide ESPN with a copy of Bowlsby's contract.

Bowlsby was one of four members of the College Football Playoff management committee who authored the original plan for a 12-team field proposed in June 2021, along with former Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, former Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey.