Former Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe says Big 12 now taking steps he touted

By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer Published: October 9, 2011
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Ousted Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe says he touted equal revenue sharing and members handing their television rights to the conference years ago, but the schools — and not just Texas — liked the idea of being able to start their own networks.

Beebe said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Sunday that Oklahoma, Nebraska and even Texas A&M were interested in “developing their own distribution systems” for their sports programs.

The Big 12 recently agreed to switch to equal revenue sharing after years in which the schools that made the most television appearances received the most money.

The eight remaining schools — not including Missouri, which is considering a switch to the Southeastern Conference — also agreed to hand their most lucrative television rights over to the conference for six years, a move that makes it practically impossible for members to switch leagues.

Beebe said he first brought up equal revenue sharing in 2008 and the members never even voted on it. Nebraska, which left the Big 12 for the Big Ten last year, was among the schools against equal revenue sharing.

In 2009, ahead of negotiations on a new television contract, Beebe said he asked the members to grant the conference their top-tier TV rights, and the schools balked again without it ever going to a vote.

“Had we been able to do that none of the schools probably would of had a chance to leave because a significant amount of their rights would have been with the conference,” he said.

Now that the Big 12 has moved to implement the ideas Beebe had pushed for in the past, he said it's “bittersweet.”

“It's sweet because hopefully it will be what binds this conference together and I have a great love for the conference,” he said. “But it's bitter because had we taken these actions previously we may have been able to avoid the problems that have occurred.”

Beebe also said he was disappointed to find out Texas A&M already had been working toward a move to the SEC before he was allowed to address the Aggies' concerns about Texas' Longhorn Network.

A&M officials were upset about plans for high school games to be aired on the Longhorn Network, a plan that ended up being scrapped.

“I found out later that there had been a meeting between Texas A&M officials and SEC officials prior to us having the ability to address (the Aggies') grievances,” he said.

“I think the conference decisions that were made by the members as a whole ended up being a place that addressed many of their grievances. Maybe not perfectly, but more to their favor than not.”

In the summer of 2010, the Big 12 was on the verge of collapse. Nebraska left for the Big Ten, and Colorado joined the Pac-12. Texas A&M was considering a move to the Southeastern Conference and Texas and Oklahoma, along with their sister schools Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, were looking at creating a Pac-16.

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