The Big 12 is looking to expand as Dan Beebe has stepped down immediately as Big 12 commissioner.
For the second year in a row, the Big 12 was poised to collapse but once again appears to have stepped back from the abyss.
Beebe agreed to step down as part of efforts to keep the league from collapsing.
Brady J. Deaton, chair of the Big 12 and chancellor at the University of Missouri, said the Big 12 board of directors and Beebe reached a "mutual agreement" that Beebe will leave his job immediately.
He said he is pleased that the nine remaining Big 12 schools have pledged to remain in the conference.
"They found staying with the Big 12 is in their best interests," he said.
Deaton said the league is looking to expand but did not discuss specifics. Some media outlets reported Thursday that TCU is a possibility.
University of Kansas officials issued a statement at 10 p.m. Thursday. In the statement, KU leaders said the remaining nine members of the Big 12 have taken steps to "ensure the stability of the conference moving forward" and that the conference will have "a bright future."
The statement went on to say, "Tonight's agreement will enable us to again look at expansion as a way to solidify the conference's national standing."
In a statement before the news conference, Deaton praised Beebe's efforts on behalf of the Big 12.
"We sincerely thank Dan who has always demonstrated a total commitment to what is in the best interest of the Big 12 Conference," Deaton said. "His energy, devotion and skill in negotiating on our behalf have been tremendous assets that have benefited our member institutions, our student-athletes and all our fans."
In a statement, Beebe said he was honored to have serve the Big 12 Conference.
"I care deeply for these fine institutions and the citizens they represent," he said. "It is satisfying to know the Big 12 Conference will survive, and I congratulate the members for taking strong action to ensure a bright future as a premier intercollegiate athletics conference."
He said he "put all my effort into doing what was best for the Big 12," and he wished the league "a long and prosperous future."
Former Big Eight Commissioner Chuck Neinas will serve as interim commissioner. Big 12 school presidents met Thursday by telephone to discuss Beebe and stabilizing the fractured league.
Nebraska and Colorado left the league last year, and this month Texas A&M announced it would leave for the SEC.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State considered leaving the Pac-12 until Tuesday when the Pac-12 said it would not expand. Texas and Texas Tech also had considered leaving for the Pac-12 or the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Beebe's resignation comes on a day as Big 12 officials worked feverishly to save the Big 12.
Beebe has been a commissioner in the Big 12 since 2003. Last year he was given a three-year contract extension and raise after being credited with keeping the Big 12 alive, despite the departure of Nebraska to the Big 10 and Colorado to the Pac-12.
Some believe the Big 12 to be safe and say that's great news for Kansas City.
"It's just so big for the local economy. You're talking $13-$14 million that the Big 12 tournament brings in each year, and it's kind of like our third franchise. And it's not just the money, it's the civic pride, so everybody's been following this story," said Bob Fescoe with 610 Sports.
Copyright 2011 KCTV. All rights reserved.