Deaton, Big 12 pledge commitment to stability

The league unanimously voted to accept Chuck Neinas as interim commissioner and granted six-year media rights deal.
Chancellor Brady Deaton speaks to the press about the fate of the Big 12 Conference Thursday night at Jesse Hall. Deaton is the chairman of the Big 12 Board of Directors.

MU plans to remain a member of the Big 12 Conference amid pledges by the remaining nine members of the league to seek reform for extended stability for the beleaguered conference.

Chancellor Brady Deaton affirmed his school’s loyalty to the Big 12 in a news conference on Thursday, moments after joining fellow league members in accepting the resignation of Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe in a teleconference. Beebe came under fire for failing to keep the conference together after Nebraska left for the Big Ten and Colorado left for the Pac-12 last summer. Texas A&M plans to leave by next July for the Southeastern Conference.

“Dan has always demonstrated a total commitment to the best interests of the Big 12,” Deaton said. “No one has ever doubted that. His energy and skill in every dimension of what he’s done has been exemplary.”

Deaton also announced the board unanimously voted former Big 8 commissioner Chuck Neinas as Beebe’s replacement in the interim. Neinas, who led the Big 8 from 1971 to 80, will oversee the conference as members work together for stability, but will not be considered as a permanent choice for the job.

The Big 12 Board decided Thursday night to reactivate its expansion committee as the conference looks for candidates to fill the absence of recently departed Texas A&M. Deaton did not specify whether the league wished to return to twelve members.

Alhough no specific ideas were discussed on Thursday, Deaton was asked by the board to form a "special working group" to tackle the various points of contention between the schools.

“We’re working together to fix some of those issues because we really recognize we’ve got some issues to address,” Deaton said. “We’re committed to examining every single aspect of those issues and we will be working together to find a pathway that will lead to a more stable conference, and one as we look to expansion will be very attractive to other institutions around the country.”

The board also affirmed its intention to pursue the granting of first- and second-tier media rights for a period of six years, essentially meaning all revenue from the top television games would continue to go to the Big 12 even if a school bolts to another league. In a separate press conference Thursday, Oklahoma president David Boren called the agreement “strong handcuffs” for the Big 12 members.

"The grant of rights really does bind the conference together and it shows that we fully intend to stay together,” Boren said. "If you wanted to talk about one important action that really does demonstrate that this conference is going to be stable, that we're not going to have year-to-year dramas like we have had, I think that grant of rights is a very essential item.”

Numerous reports throughout the last few weeks have indicated the Big 12 was on the brink of dissolution, yet the conference remained intact. Reports that Oklahoma and Texas were on the move to the Pac-12 were nullified when Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott announced the conference would not expand. The Southeastern Conference also reportedly considered offering Missouri a spot in its conference, but SEC associate director denied such a move.

Deaton declined to comment on talks with the SEC other than to say every school in the BCS has had communications with other conferences, and Missouri was no exception.

“Every institution has to look out for its best interests, I’ve said that from the beginning,” Deaton said. “You saw that exercised by a couple of members of the Big 12 over the last couple of weeks. They’ve looked at what (are) their best interests, and it’s interesting and positive for us that they’ve found staying here was their best interests.”

Missouri athletic director Mike Alden said the past two weeks have hurt the league’s image, and it was the responsibility of the members to change it for the better.

“It’s challenging,” Alden said. “It’s troubling. You don’t want your league out there being talked about the way the Big 12 has been talked about the last two weeks. And that’s really tough, because its up to you what that image is, and how it’s impacted.”

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