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Neinas: Big 12 likely to keep MU

Neinas: Big 12 likely to keep MU

Interim boss thinks Texas A&M probably will leave conference.

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Although he's in the midst of a cram session to get up to speed on the Big 12, interim commissioner Chuck Neinas has talked to enough people to form an opinion on what shape the conference might take in the immediate future.

Chats with Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton and those in the know about Texas A&M allowed him to step forward Friday and make an educated guess during an introductory conference call.

"I think the Aggies are probably going to go, and I think Missouri's going to stay,'' he said.

Neinas is replacing commissioner Dan Beebe, although he stated unequivocally that he will not be a candidate for the job permanently. His No. 1 task will be finding a method to end the strain within the league.

Toward that end, he will travel to each campus to meet with university presidents throughout October. There might be some additional time spent in Columbia.

Neinas said he remains concerned about the possibility of Mizzou leaving the Big 12 amid rumors that the Southeastern Conference could be an option.

"What the chancellor told me is that he has some curators who are new and interested in talking about things,'' Neinas said. "But in the end, I believe it will be resolved.''

But he said the Big 12 can be viable as a league even without Mizzou.

The former Big Eight commissioner has worked in recent years as a consultant on the hiring of college coaches, mostly for football, and athletic directors. Thus, he enters the job with a strong familiarity with the Big 12 athletic directors and football coaches.

For long-term stability, he said, the Big 12 seems to be content to target 10 schools. Saying "they belong in the Big 12,'' Neinas seemed intent on at least taking a stab at getting Texas A&M and athletics director Bill Byrne to reconsider an anticipated moved to the SEC.

"I would say the odds apparently might be against it, but sometimes a 100-to-1 shot comes home,'' Neinas said.

Neinas took nearly an hour to answer questions one day after the announcement that he was replacing Beebe. He won't officially begin his work until Oct. 3, and he admitted that he is still "getting his feet wet on the job.''

He was commissioner of the Big Eight from 1971-80. He then became executive director of the now-defunct College Football Association from 1980-97 and was instrumental in some significant reforms.

Neinas said he took the Big 12 job because of a 'strong affection'' for the league, revealing that he helped with its formation from the background in the 1990s. He believes he can help soothe any strained relationships.

"I guess you could say I've done it in the past and I'll try it again,'' he said. "It's a work in progress and I guess that's my charge.''

Neinas attempted to clear up confusion over the matter of the Big 12 and the granting of media rights. If the schools grant media rights to the conference for six years, as discussed, any institution leaving would lose television money.

However, Missouri's board of curators must approve and, Neinas said, "I don't know exactly when that will occur.''

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