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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Ultimately, the 10 remaining members committed to stay together and Beebe negotiated a 13-year, $1 billion television deal with Fox Sports.

But when Texas struck a huge deal with ESPN to start to the Longhorn Network, a 20-year, $300 million venture between the university and network, it changed the dynamic in the league.

“The institutional networks were part of the design of what we were doing when we were negotiating our contract with Fox,” Beebe said. “We were for the first time deliberately setting out to reserve the right for every school to do a football game and to do significant other content that wasn't able to be done previously.

“What wasn't counted on in allowing that was the degree of support and the amount of revenue that was able to be achieved by the Longhorn Network and even (Texas Athletic Director) DeLoss Dodds has said that isn't something he thought was going to happen either.”

Beebe was pushed out of the job he had held for five years last month and replaced on an interim basis by Chuck Neinas, the former Big Eight commissioner.

Beebe said he was never given a specific reason as to why he was fired.

University of Oklahoma President David Boren led the push for Beebe's removal.

“Obviously there were some concerns he had about the fact that three members had left during my tenure and whether I could have done anything differently or not that was a factor,” Beebe said. “It's their right to do what they did. And I have nothing but respect and admiration for the institutions and a great love for the conference and its schools and the citizens they represent.

“I didn't get specifics about what decisions I had made or didn't make so I could address those specifically. But that's fine. It was more nebulous. It was more, ‘We just need to go in a different direction.“'

The Big 12 invited TCU last week to join the league, which would push membership back to 10, if Missouri stays.

Beebe, naturally, said Missouri would be best served by staying.

He also said he has been in contact with Neinas and has offered any assistance he can provide in helping keep the conference together.

“The Big 12 Conference is bigger than me,” he said. “Personally, (being fired) hurt. It hurt to have some really false things put out in the press that your whole family reads and your colleagues read, but the fact of the matter is when I step back … I love this group of schools, its survival and its strength going forward is more worthwhile than my personal situation.”

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