Friday, September 30, 2011
Who is Chuck Neinas?
By David Ubben
Chuck Neinas' first official day as interim Big 12 commissioner is Monday, but he's already been at work for the conference.
He was in Dallas earlier this week for the national meeting of athletic directors, which featured a group meeting among the Big 12's ADs.
He also met with the league's nine remaining ADs one-by-one on Wednesday.
So, who's the man put in charge of piecing together a conference that's lost 25 percent of its membership in 15 months?
He's best known publicly for his work as commissioner of the Big Eight from 1971-80, a history that led him to consider the Big 12's advances when they approached him about replacing Dan Beebe on an interim basis.
"It's going to sound corny,” Neinas said. “But I can't help it. I have a strong affection for that conference. The Big Eight was very good to me. People don't know this, but you can ask [former OU athletic director] Donnie Duncan, [Texas athletic director] DeLoss Dodds, I was kind of in the background, helping the [Big 12] get formed.
"I've got a lot of friends I've worked with who are involved. Doggone it, if I can be of assistance, I'm willing to try."
It'll be difficult, but Neinas, 79, has insisted he will not be a candidate for the full-time job. He might help find his replacement though, if asked.
That's his specialty and what he's become best known for among administrators since starting a consulting service in 1997. The company, based in Boulder, Colo., has helped athletic departments hire scores of coaches, and he also recommended seven of the 10 Big 12 athletic directors for their current positions.
Between his work as a commissioner and headhunter, he worked as executive director for the College Football Association, which helped administrators and coaches from everywhere in the game work through issues and help carry college football into the future. He helped administer a television plan from 1984-95 that included ABC, NBC, CBS and ESPN.
That experience and relationship with television networks should come in handy as the Big 12 discusses both handing over its media rights to the Big 12 and expanding to new members.
"If they've hired me to be the commissioner, I'll act like the commissioner. I might be there for the interim. But if you look at my record, I'm not afraid to make decisions," Neinas said. "If your employers are thinking you made the right decision, that's how you gain authority."