Thursday, September 29, 2011
New commish trying to ensure Big 12 future
By David Ubben
The Big 12 would like to do a lot in the near future.
It would like the nine remaining members to grant their media rights to the league, ensuring stability for at least six years. It would also like to expand, or at least formally explore expansion.
But for now, it still has to know, to borrow a phrase from former commissioner Dan Beebe, "who is on the plane."
For now, Missouri has offered no concrete guarantee that it won't be leaving for the SEC, but new commissioner Chuck Neinas is confident the Tigers are staying.
"We understand that relative to the grant of rights issue this matter has to be considered by the Missouri board of curators, and they will have an opportunity to review what the conference has accomplished, what we're doing and what we plan to do," Neinas told reporters on a conference call Wednesday night. "I think that once they have an opportunity to fully understand and comprehend what the conference is doing that they will agree that Missouri should continue to be a good member of the Big 12 Conference."
There's no timetable for the grant-of-rights proposal, considering each school has different requirements to do so, but Neinas discussed that and Missouri's future on Wednesday.
He also said he did not know of any offer to Missouri from another conference.
"I have not been contacted by anyone from the Southeastern Conference," he said.
Neinas suggested that Missouri would probably miss its century-old Border War football rivalry with Kansas and the opportunity to play its conference basketball tournament regularly in Kansas City, Mo., if it decided to switch leagues.
"So I think there's a lot to look at," Neinas said. "You know what happens is a pretty girl walks down the aisle and you say, 'Boy, I'd like to take her to the prom.' But there's also one who's tried and true and you know is going to be there."
Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard told the Austin American-Statesman he "wouldn't say they are holding up (future plans)," and that he feels "strongly" they will stay in the league.
Neinas also added that his lack of knowledge of an offer from the SEC didn't mean Missouri didn't have one, but he's reiterated several times he feels Missouri will stay.
"There would be a problem of perception," Neinas said of the possibility of a fourth team leaving the Big 12 in 15 months. "We can build the house again with different pieces. I can tell you that there is no shortage of interest from schools exploring membership in this conference. But we want Missouri to continue to be a member of the Big 12."