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Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas answered questions in a 22-minute long teleconference on Monday as the embattled conference enters one of the most pivotal weeks in its 15-year history.
On Sunday, the Big 12 Board of Directors met and unanimously agreed on equal revenue distribution in regards to Tier 1 and Tier 2 television rights, as well as equal distribution across the board for men's basketball and the NCAA basketball tournament. While it was agreed on in principle, each team would have to grant its rights for Tier 1 and Tier 2 for at least six years.
"The idea of a longer term was discussed, but not rejected," Neinas said. "That's why we said at least six years. The board could choose to do something different in terms of duration."
While the Big 12 appears set to survive, Missouri has been at the heart of the future of the conference. Over the past few weeks, rumors swirled about the Tigers' less-than-lukewarm feeling to the new-look Big 12, especially in regards to the previously unequal distribution of revenue and ESPN's Longhorn Network. Neinas said he believed Sunday's agreement (in principle) would have a positive effect on Missouri.
"I do think they'll consider what we're doing," Neinas said. "We have some things in mind that I'm not prepared to reveal at this point. We're working in a positive way to improve the conference."
With the expansion committee activated and ready to approach new teams -- Neinas said there has been plenty of interest -- Missouri is still the key cog in the procedure. At noon Monday, the Missouri system announced a meeting of its board of curators scheduled for 4 PM Tuesday in St. Louis. The agenda has not been announced, but conference affiliation is rumored to be at the center of the meeting. It will be a closed session, and the administration will meet with reporters afterward.
MU chancellor Brady Deaton remains on the Big 12's expansion committee, although he is not the chairman. Neinas said he doesn't believe Deaton ever was the chairman, but admitted that he could be wrong.
On Sunday, Deaton took part in the Big 12 Board of Directors meeting, although Neinas said he recused himself from a certain part based on legal advice from his counsel. Neinas refused to answer a question about which part of the meeting in which Deaton refused to participate.
In such a pivotal week to the future shape and direction of the conference, Neinas said he will visit Columbia this week, as well as other schools, as he continues his tour of his newly inherited conference. Should Missouri still be undecided in its conference future, Neinas said his pitch will be a simple one based on tradition and geography.
"I think they have to look at not only what the future best interests are for the University of Missouri, but for the state of Missouri," Neinas said. "There's a lot to be considered not only for the institution but for the state. You know they have the Big 12 conference basketball tournament in Missouri, they've got the long running games with the University of Kansas which is their traditional rivalry, going back to, what, 1893? The other thing is it's one thing to talk about the Southeastern Conference, but how many people are going to be able to afford the travel to Gainesville, Fla., or Columbia, S.C., or Tuscaloosa, Ala.?
"John Q. Fan, he can get in the car and drive to Big 12 games. Besides, Missouri is Midwestern, not Southern."
All eyes will remain on Missouri until Tuesday evening.
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