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Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Big 12's latest meeting shows progress

By David Ubben

GRAPEVINE, Texas -- The Big 12's nine remaining athletic directors met on Tuesday with new commissioner Chuck Neinas.

Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard, the chairman of the athletic directors, was slated to speak to a few waiting media members after the meeting, but Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds left the room before Pollard.

"I'm not talking," he said, hardly slowing his pace out of the Hilton hotel. "Jamie's talking."

A few minutes later, Missouri athletic director Mike Alden also declined comment, only noting later that it was "a crazy time."

"Jamie's talking," Alden said. "We all talked about it in there."

The Big 12 may not have any restrictions from leaving the league in writing yet, but considering the league's last formal meeting, Tuesday can certainly be considered progress.

"As far as formal agreements, we're working towards that," Pollard said. "I can't give you specifics, because that's something that's still a work in progress, but I will tell you that all nine member institutions are fully engaged and committed to putting together the necessary agreements to put together the kind of stability that we all want to have."

In short, that means granting the most valuable media rights, Tier 1 and Tier 2, to the conference for six years. If that's done, media appearance money would be paid to the Big 12. If a school left, the Big 12 would collect revenue from media appearances, not the new school itself, and that money couldn't be transferred to its new conference.

The school would be valuable to the Big 12 and only the Big 12.

That's not done yet, and for now, Missouri could leave the conference under the same conditions Texas A&M did, likely only facing a stiff exit fee.

"Could people change their position? Yeah, that's human nature," Pollard said. "I don't anticipate that happening. I really don't, and the special committee is clearly going to work toward initiatives that will further solidify so that doesn't happen."

Chairman of the board of directors, Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton, assembled the special committee to deal with the league's ongoing issues, appointing members from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa State.

No consensus on the Big 12's future membership has been reached ("It could be 9, 10, 12, 16. Pick a number," Pollard said.) but the Big 12's athletic directors did begin examining schedules should the league move forward into the 2012 season with just nine members.

Group meetings concluded on Tuesday, and directors will meet one-on-one with Neinas on Wednesday. The Big 12 is still reeling from the loss of three members in 15 months, but a day after Texas A&M made its exit official, Pollard remains hopeful of the Big 12's future.

"Each institution has to figure out what's right for them, and you come out of it stronger on the other side. It feels like that today. The nine of us in that room? We've been through a lot together. An awful lot together," Pollard said. "Our obituary has been written several times, and it hasn't come to fruition. That's strengthened us, and we said this a year ago. Ultimately, we have to prove it. We have to prove it. But I feel very comfortable with the individuals in that room that are my peers and our league is going to be a very viable league."

At least this time, there was nobody talking over him.