Chuck Neinas, Big 12 Officials Offer Contradicting StatementsPosted by dnspewak on November 3rd, 2011
Chuck Neinas is the commissioner of the Big 12 Conference. The top dog. When he speaks, people listen. And we assume that his statements are the absolute truth.
So when Neinas said at a welcoming reception for West Virginia on Tuesday that the Mountaineers could only join his league if they did so by the 2012-13 season, it raised questions about the school’s ongoing lawsuit with the Big East. West Virginia wants to break its 27-month notification rule with the Big East, but the league isn’t backing down from the terms of its contract with the school. Without getting into all the legal mumbo-jumbo, the point is that WVU isn’t a shoe-in to join the Big 12 next summer. And Neinas said on Tuesday that West Virginia’s failure to join in 2012 would force the league to adjust.
“We needed a 10th member next season to fulfill our TV commitments. There’s an inventory that goes with a contract for TV, so we’ve got to be able to do that.”
Every news outlet in America then reported that Neinas had told West Virginia that it must join by 2012 — or else. The headlines read that WVU’s acceptance was “contingent” on its status for the 2012-13 season, and although we weren’t at the event in Morgantown, just about every reporter seemed to interpret his comments the same way. They could have been taken out of context, but the above quote indicates the term “contingent” with regards to West Virginia and the Big 12. Also, a nine-team league would skew the Big 12’s television contract, so the comment from Neinas make sense.
Here’s where the story gets interesting. The firestorm spread throughout the day, and naturally it reached the Big 12 offices. Needless to say, those officials weren’t on the same page with Neinas. Spokesman Bob Burda said:
“[The Mountaineers' membership] is not contingent upon [them] joining the Conference for the 2012-13 season.
Neinas and Burda work for the same league, so how could they both offer seemingly opposite explanations of the West Virginia situation? Again, it’s quite possible that Neinas either misspoke or his comments were taken out of context. Either way, it appears that WVU will join the Big 12 regardless of when the Big East allows it to leave. Unless, of course, Neinas offers a new statement sometime today. Then, we’d have some rather serious problems to discuss.