In addition to directing the BBC's coverage of major sporting events, Slater will also oversee the sport department's move from London to Salford.
Originally from Birmingham, Slater joined the BBC in 1983 after a successful career as an international gymnast, which included competing in the 1976 Olympic Games.
She said: "I am thrilled to have this opportunity to lead BBC Sport at such an exciting and challenging time, that includes leading the division to its new home at the heart of BBC North and also ensuring BBC Sport plays its part in making the 2012 Games the success they deserve to be."
Peter Salmon, the director of BBC North, said Slater's "skill as a supreme sports producer" had clinched the job for her.
"We are about to start a new decade of digital sports broadcasting across all our platforms. I am confident Barbara and her teams can lead us there successfully," he added.