Needing someone strong and savvy to mend the Big 12, the league has turned to a former Big Eight commissioner who also helped usher in the era of college football as big business.
Chuck Neinas, who is known across the college landscape as a smart consensus builder, will take over the Big 12 as interim commissioner on Oct. 3. The Big 12 dumped former commissioner Dan Beebe on Thursday in a mutual agreement after the conference nearly fell apart for the second time in 15 months.
The 79-year-old Neinas said he is going to the Big 12 to work, not just sit around until his successor is picked. He is not going to be considered a candidate for the permanent job.
“I am not a caretaker. My mission is to bring the conference closer together and move forward and make progress in all areas,” Neinas told The Associated Press on Friday, adding he expects to be on the job six months or longer.
Neinas was Big Eight commissioner from 1971 to 1980. He left for the College Football Association, a confederation of schools that fought to take control of TV rights away from the NCAA. Oklahoma and Georgia had sued the NCCA over the issue and federal courts ruled in favor of the schools, putting them in charge of negotiating television contracts that are now valued in the billions.
“They’ve hired me to be the commissioner. I’ll act like a commissioner,” Neinas said when asked if he’d have a diminished voice because of his interim status.
“I might be there for the interim, but if you look at my record, I’m not afraid to make decisions.”
TV rights are also at the center of the Big 12’s attempt to patch itself back together.
The nine remaining schools _ Texas A&M is planning to leave in 2012 _ have agreed in principle to give their TV rights to the conference for the next six years. That would essentially handcuff the schools to the Big 12 by making them leave behind their TV rights and money if they break away or are poached by another league.
No contracts have been signed and the proposal needs approval of at least some school governing boards around the Big 12.
“If the institutions take this step, then there’s no question. They’re basically locked in for that period of time,” Neinas said. “During the period of time, hopefully they could solidify the situation and that would help fortify the foundation of the conference.
“That would be my assessment, but you’re talking to someone who is still getting his feet wet on the job.”
There seemed to be a disconnect after a Thursday night conference call between Big 12 school leaders. Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton said the members would “pursue” giving their media rights to the conference, while Oklahoma president David Boren talked as though the agreement had already been reached.
Neinas said Deaton informed him “he has some curators that are new and they are interested in discussing a bunch of things, but I do believe that in the end it will be resolved.”
Neinas said you have to be concerned about the doubts surrounding Missouri but he believes the Big 12 would still be viable with the other eight schools and could seek other ways to strengthen the league.View Entire Story
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