Administration Pledges Full Support to Big 12

NORMAN, Okla. — OU President David L. Boren, athletic director Joe Castiglione, head football coach Bob Stoops and the rest of the Sooner administration officially committed themselves to the continuance of the Big 12 Conference Thursday evening in a formal press conference at the Stadium Club.

"I think that, for us to be able to continue to move toward our goal of being part of a very stable conference and to be able to do it in the Big 12 Conference, is a very, very positive development for the university and for the state of Oklahoma," Boren said. "We have such long ties with members of this conference. There are wonderful rivalries. There are wonderful relationships that have been built over the years."

But for that to have taken place, the Sooners demanded reform.

It appears that is already well on the way.

The first order of action was the removal of commissioner Dan Beebe, who resigned this afternoon.

"It was accepted with an expression of appreciation to him for his service," Boren said. "And let me say it's no secret that I've had some differences of opinion with Chancellor Beebe over time involving the loss of some of the members of our conference in the past. But certainly, I think he has always been motivated by desire to serve the conference. I think he has been very sincere in that desire, and while I've had differences of opinion with him, they have never been personal differences.

"I respect him. I like Dan Beebe. He's a very decent human being, and the thing that I most admire him about is that he's always been very concerned for the welfare of our student-athletes. And he's brought that spirit to the commissioner's office."

Basically, Boren, as well as others in the conference, just didn't agree with the way he was running things, as many believed he was catering to Texas.

The next step is voting in an interim commissioner, which has already been orchestrated.

"There was unanimous approval to select Chuck Neinas, the former Big Eight commisioner, former executive director of the American Collegiate Football Association, well known to all of us, to be the interim commissioner," Boren said. "He will serve as interim commissioner until a new permanent commissioner is selected. He will not, of course, be a candidate to be the permanent commissioner."

Boren informed the media that there will be a search committee in order to find that permanent commissioner, which could take several months.

In addition to the ousting of Beebe, a grant of rights, by which no member will be allowed to leave for six years, has been enacted.

"We felt that we needed a lot more than just an expression of solidarity and intention to remain in the conference, so the next item that we took up is a very, very important item to show that we mean business about staying together," Boren said. "A six year grant of rights of our television rights, tier one and tier two, was agreed to by all the institutions present.

There's a specific reason why they chose that number of years for the grant of rights.

"Six years was deemed to be very important because our next negotiations on the extension of our media agreements occur within five years," Boren said. "And so this is a grant of rights which goes a year beyond that. It's an affirmation that we all do tend to stay together."

On top of that, it's a stringent action that really does put a stranglehold on any members moving.

"And, of course, that grant of rights really has teeth in it because, as all of you know, when you granted your rights, it's very unlikely you would ever receive an invitation from another conference because during the term of grant of rights, anything that you earn in the way of revenue, for example, being broadcast through the media, does not go to any new conference you might have joined," Boren said. "It goes back to the Big 12. So, that means these are very strong handcuffs. The grant of rights really does bind the conference together, and it shows that we fully intend to stay together."

Another one of the reforms is opening back up the expansion committee, which would allow the Big 12 Conference to seek out potential new members to join.

It features five individuals.

"Members of that expansion committee to look at other potential schools to join our conference include Joe Castiglione representing the University of Oklahoma, President Hargis is a member of that committee, Deloss Dodds, the athletic director at Texas, Kirk Schultz, President of Kansas State and Brady Deaton, Chancellor Brady Deaton, who is of course Missouri and Chairman of the Big 12 Board this year," Boren said.

Boren mentioned they committee will go to work "right away."

Under these and more reforms which Boren would not go into further detail about, he spoke on behalf of the administration believing that the university and conference would gain its stability it so badly wants.

He also commented about the benefits for the rest of the individuals involved with OU, including student-athletes, fans and others.

"I think it means a lot to our fans," Boren said. "Our fans, if you fly to the east or west coast for games, many of our fans will simply not be able to do that, not be able to financially afford to do that. Parents of our players would find that a hardship as well. And so there are so many benefits to us staying together."

Of course, he would not discount the fact that OU and the Pac-12 did have discussions, although he said they decided mutually and were "unanimous, simultaneous" in keeping things how they were.

OU wanted to remain in the Big 12, while the Pac-12 wanted to stay as 12 teams.

Boren added that the two will still collaborate on ideas, specifically about academics.

As for the presidents' conference call this afternoon prior to the press conference, Boren said that all presidents, even including Texas A&M's R. Bowen Loftin, were on the call and unanimously voted in favor of the actions taking place.

Still, Boren said even though Loftin voted as a participating member, he doesn't see A&M going to the SEC changing in any way.

As for now, though, conference realignment, especially regarding the Sooners and the rest of the Big 12, has slowed down.

And the Big 12 lives another day, in large part due to these reforms.

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