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Thursday, September 22, 2011
David Boren: Presidents agree to deal

By David Ubben
ESPN.com

The Big 12's presidents pledged to grant their television rights to the conference for six years, Oklahoma president David Boren said at a news conference on Thursday.

No contracts had been signed yet in part because some schools must get the approval of their governing boards, league spokesman Bob Burda said.

The Big 12 splits revenue from its Fox Sports contract evenly, but only half of the money from its top-tier deal with ABC/ESPN goes into equal shares. The rest is weighted toward the programs that play on the network more frequently.

Boren said all nine remaining schools -- except for Texas A&M -- "agreed" to give a six-year grant of their first- and second-tier television rights to the Big 12. That means that all revenue from the top television games -- shown currently on networks owned by ABC/ESPN and Fox -- would continue to go to the Big 12 even if a school bolts to another league.

The six-year term runs past the next negotiating period for the top-tier contract, currently with ABC/ESPN, in a bid to keep the nine schools together for the next contract.

"We felt that we needed a lot more than an expression of solidarity," Boren said, referencing "unequivocal commitments" that held the Big 12 together in 2010, when the Big 12 last faced near extinction. "It was a very important item to show we mean business about staying together."

The agreement would be the biggest for the Big 12 in hopes of ensuring stability for the league moving forward. The Big 12's presidents unanimously agreed to give the conference their media rights, though Texas AD DeLoss Dodds expressed reservation about doing so in a meeting with local media in Austin on Wednesday.

"That grant of rights really has teeth in it, because when you've granted your rights, it's very unlikely that a member would receive an invitation to another conference," Boren said.

Missouri, which also held a news conference Thursday, said it will remain a member of the Big 12. Chancellor Brady Deaton said Missouri is committed to the league.

But Deaton, according the New York Times, said Missouri had no agreement on granting TV rights.

Boren said Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin was part of the conversation, but Boren was careful to note that it was "highly likely" that the Aggies would continue to chart their course for the SEC. Boren also said the league would not give up on convincing Texas A&M to stay until the Aggies became official members of the SEC.

"They're so far down the line, I think, with the SEC that I don't think they are likely to change their mind," Boren said.

Loftin participated in the call as a voting member but Boren said "no one should take that as a signal that they have changed their minds." Boren said the other nine members did nothing to remove the threat of legal action that has kept A&M's departure from being finalized.

Texas A&M spokesman Jason Cook said the school is not sticking around.

"Another key to the (Big 12's) stability will be for the league to assist Texas A&M with our departure. The events of this week were positive in that regard," Cook said.

Boren acknowledged that he had conversations with conferences on other coasts, and called them "positive" but said the Pac-12 and Oklahoma came to a simultaneous, mutual decision that a partnership was not best for both parties.

"Our goal was stability in the Big 12. If we could achieve it, that was what we most wanted to do," Boren said.

"It was a win-win situation for all of us," Boren said. "The most important actions on the table were taken today."

The Big 12 will also re-activate its expansion committee and seek to add members, but Boren said the league will do its "due diligence" and not look to go for 10 or 12 numbers explicitly.

Boren also announced the resignation of commissioner Dan Beebe and the appointment of new interim commissioner Chuck Neinas, who served as commissioner of the old Big Eight conference and runs a consulting firm in Colorado.

Seven Big 12 athletic directors were recommended for their current jobs by Neinas, as well as several coaches, including Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione and Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops.

Neinas is expected to hold the title for an undetermined amount of time and Neinas is not a candidate for the permanent role of commissioner.

Other issues in the conference, such as equal revenue sharing, will be addressed in the future by a committee that Big 12 board of directors chairman Brady Deaton will assemble. Boren said that panel would likely be chosen by Friday.

Not addressed Thursday, however, were issues surrounding Texas. The Longhorns had already proposed equal revenue sharing but also said it won't make changes to its 20-year, $300 million contract with ESPN for the Longhorn Network.

Boren said any changes to the Longhorn Network would have to be considered by a special panel to be appointed by Big 12 board chairman Deaton, Missouri's chancellor. Boren said that panel would likely be chosen by Friday.

Texas officials were not available for comment Thursday night.

David Ubben covers Big 12 football for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.