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Big 12 Departures Continue; Next To Go Is Commissioner Dan Beebe

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe admitted privately a couple of weeks ago that he was willing to step down if it would result in the conference holding together. Today that reality will come true.

Dan Beebe, Big 12 commissioner
Dan Beebe, Big 12 commissioner

After receiving a three-year contract extension just a year ago, Dan Beebe is now out as commissioner of the Big 12 Conference. Beebe, who has been the top executive of the Big 12 since September 2007, is expected to resign his position today.

According to Kansas City Star college sports columnist Blair Kerkhoff, a source close to Beebe said the commissioner was working with Big 12 officials on an exit agreement on Wednesday, with the official announcement expected sometime today.

Oklahoma president David Boren said Tuesday - curiously after the Pac-12 Conference announced it was not interested in expanding at this time, thus closing the door, at least in the short term, on the Sooners interest in applying for membership to that conference - that OU would remain in the Big 12 only if there were major reforms. Chief among Oklahoma's demands were the replacement of the commissioner as well as certain changes regarding Texas' Longhorn Network.

The source said that Beebe told him privately a couple of weeks ago that "if the Big 12 stayed together and he had to go, it would be like lifting up a huge weight off his heart."

One of the major reasons that contributed to commissioner's decision to step down, the source went on to say, was how he is being perceived as too biased and nothing more than a "puppet" in favor of what Texas wants. According to Kerkhoff's Big 12 source, Beebe decided the conference needed a fresh start and shouldn't have to "go back to Groundhog Day where they were having this same conversation next year."

There are several media reports that the Big 12 leadership has reached out to former Big Eight commissioner Chuck Neinas, who led the Big Eight from 1971 to 1980, as a possible replacement. It is uncertain whether this would be for an interim basis or a longer term. Several names that have been floated as a potential permanent replacement for Beebe are Bill Hancock, who lives in Kansas City and is the current head of the BCS (Bowl Championship Series), Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione and Big East Conference commissioner Mike Tranghese.

Beebe, a lawyer, came to the Big 12 in 2003 as an associate commissioner and was named commissioner in 2007. Prior to joining the Big 12, he was commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference for 14 years and before that worked in the enforcement division of the NCAA.

The Big 12 Board of Directors has a conference call scheduled for today to resume expansion talks that were placed on hold almost three weeks ago when Oklahoma announced it was exploring its options to leave the conference. BYU, West Virginia and Louisville are rumored to be high on the Big 12's list as prospective expansion members.