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Big 12 executive associate commissioner Ed Stewart is leaving the conference after 16 years to join USC as an executive senior associate athletic director, the university announced Friday. 

Stewart has been an integral part of the Big 12 executive team since joining the conference in 2006 and has overseen Big 12 football during multiple rounds of realignment and through multiple commissioners. In his role with the Big 12 office, Stewart has been the lead executive responsible for administration of Big 12 football. 

In his new role, Stewart is expected to oversee the football program at USC. He teams back up with first-year Trojans coach Lincoln Riley, who Stewart worked with for five years when Riley was at Oklahoma. Stewart's experience with realignment is a key part of his appeal for the role, according to ESPN. USC is set to join the Big Ten for the 2024 football season. 

Stewart's departure comes just days after Brett Yormark took over full-time as Big 12 commissioner, so Yormark now immediately has to fill one of the most important roles in his new office. Yormark replaced Bob Bowlsby, who retired and moved to an advisory role with the Big 12 after 10 years. The new commissioner is a longtime sports and entertainment executive, but does not have major college athletics experience. 

Prior to his jobs in collegiate administration, Stewart was a standout linebacker and team captain on Nebraska's 1994 national championship team and earned consensus All-America honors. He was later named to the Nebraska Football All-Century Team.

He later worked at Michigan State while earning his graduate degree and joined Missouri as an associate athletic director in 1999. Stewart joined the Big 12 while Missouri and Nebraska were still member institutions, and oversaw the league's football product through major realignment in 2012 and now in 2021.