Pac-12 commissioner says conference won't expand

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A wild day of conference realignment news ended with an unexpected twist. The Pac-12 announced it was not expanding.

"In light of the widespread speculation about potential scenarios for Conference re-alignment, the Pac-12 Presidents and Chancellors have affirmed their decision to remain a 12-team conference," Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement.

The announcement punctuated a day of conference deals, speculation and threats.

The Kansas City Star reported Missouri had an informal offer from the Southeastern Conference to join its league. The SEC already has invited Texas A&M to become its 13th member. The idea was Mizzou would leave for the football-mad conference if the Big 12 fell apart, which seemed possible if, as widely speculated, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech had been invited to join the Pac-12.

But the Big 12 exodus to the Pac-12 started to lose traction on Tuesday when The Oklahoman reported Oklahoma would consider staying in the Big 12, under certain conditions.

First, commissioner Dan Beebe had to go. Also, the Sooners wanted some amendments to the University of Texas-branded network, according what the newspaper called "a high-ranking Big 12 source.

"It's going to take major, major reforms for OU, and thus Oklahoma State, to consider remaining in the Big 12," the source told The Oklahoman. "We'd have to have an interim commissioner."But now what? Oklahoma's leverage was supposedly interest in the Pac-12, believed to be mutual until Tuesday night.

Oklahoma president David Boren said in a statement that the development wasn't unexpected.

"We were not surprised by the Pac-12's decision not to expand at this time," Boren said. "Even though we had decided not to apply for membership this year, we have developed a positive relationship with the leadership of the (Pac-12) and we have kept them informed of the progress we've been making to gain agreement from the Big 12 for changes which will make the conference more stable for the future.

"Stability has been our first goal and we look forward to achieving that goal through continued membership in the Big 12 Conference."

The Big 12 did not respond to an interview request for Beebe. On Monday, Beebe issued a statement and said the conference was applying "all effort and resources toward assuring our members that maintaining the Big 12 is in the best interest for their institutions."

According to the source, Oklahoma wasn't happy with Beebe's efforts in trying to keep members from leaving. Nebraska and Colorado announced departures last summer, and Texas A&M has stated its intention to leave for the SEC.

Beebe's decisions have been too favorable to Texas, the source said, including aspects of The Longhorn Network. "The perception is, he answers to one school," the source said.

Beebe has served as commissioner since 2007 and has been with the conference since 2003.

Last November, his efforts guiding the conference through realignment were rewarded with a three-year contract extension, through June, 2015.

"Dan Beebe has been an outstanding leader for the Big 12 during very challenging times," Big 12 Board of Directors chairman and Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton said when the extension was announced. "The board feels he has performed well beyond his job description under extraordinary circumstances."

In 2009, Beebe's salary was raised to $997,000.

In April, Beebe helped the conference gain a mega-television contract, a 13-year deal with Fox Sports Net worth about $1.2 billion for football cable rights. The league is a few years away from renegotiating its contract for network games, a deal with ABC/ESPN that expires after the 2015 season.

Reports persisted that the Pac-12 would be interested in adding Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech. Those schools were pursued by Scott last summer but decided to remain in the Big 12.

But in the last few days, Pac-12 presidents were expressing concerns about expansion, ranging from academic reputation — of the four, only Texas belongs to the Association of American Universities — to scheduling games across two time zones.

Elsewhere, the Big East learned on Tuesday that East Carolina had requested an invitation to join its league. There also was a report that the conference was prepared to invite Navy before the Pitt and Syracuse moves.Iowa State has been contacted by the Mountain West Conference, according to the Des Moines Register.

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