Beebe takes one for the Big 12

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Well, the Big 12 is going to stay alive, but Dan Beebe’s time as conference commissioner has come to an end.

Beebe fell on the sword for the Big 12 on Thursday, stepping down as commissioner in order to appease Oklahoma University, which said it would remain in the conference as long as there was a new commissioner in charge.

“I put all my effort into doing what was best for the Big 12,” Beebe said in a statement. “With great fondness, I wish the Big 12 Conference a long and prosperous future.”

Former Big Eight commissioner Chuck Neinas will serve as the interim commissioner.

Beebe, 54, was named commissioner in 2007. He guided the conference through last summer’s thunderstorm, holding strong despite the losses of Nebraska and Colorado. That effort got him a three-year extension to his contract, through 2015.

But he had received recent criticism for being partial to Texas, allowing the Longhorn Network to air a conference game — Kansas.

Beebe’s legacy will be a mixed one. He allowed other conferences to poach Big 12 schools — Texas A&M to the Southeastern Conference, Nebraska to the Big 10, Colorado to the Pac 12. But he also kept the conference intact last summer, when it looked to be on its last breath. Beebe also was in charge when the league agreed to a $1 billion TV deal with FOX last spring.

“We sincerely thank Dan who has always demonstrated a total commitment to what is in the best interest of the Big 12 Conference,” said University of Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton, also the chairman of the conference’s board of directors.

“His energy, devotion and skill in negotiating on our behalf have been tremendous assets that have benefited our member institutions, our student athletes, our athletic programs and all our fans.”

But his final action — a selfless and brave one — should be commended. And it proves that despite everything else, Beebe cared most about keeping the conference together.

“It is satisfying to know the Big 12 Conference will survive,” Beebe said. “I congratulate the members for taking strong action to ensure a bright future as a premier intercollegiate athletics conference.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Printed on Friday, September 23, 2011 as: "Dan Beebe out as Big 12 head, future unclear for conference."