COLUMBIA — Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe is out after the conference nearly collapsed for the second time in just over a year.
In a statement, the Big 12 said its board of directors and Beebe reached a "mutual agreement" for Beebe to leave the job immediately.
Former Big Eight Commissioner Chuck Neinas told The Associated Press earlier Thursday that he had been contacted about serving as interim commissioner. Big 12 school presidents were meeting Thursday by telephone to discuss Beebe and stabilizing the fractured league.
Texas A&M announced earlier this month it will leave in 2012 to seek membership in the Southeastern Conference. And Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were considering a potential move from the Big 12 to the Pac-12 until it announced Tuesday that it would not expand.
"I put all my effort into doing what was best for the Big 12," Beebe said in a statement released by the Big 12. "With great fondness, I wish the Big 12 Conference a long and prosperous future."
The 54-year-old Beebe, who was in his fifth year as the leader of the Big 12, became an easy target for schools upset about instability in the league.
Critics portrayed him as constantly being outmaneuvered by other league commissioners who were picking off his teams one by one and as someone beholden to Texas, the Big 12's biggest and wealthiest member.
Last fall, Beebe was granted a three-year extension on his contract through 2015. When the extension was announced, MU Chancellor Brady Deaton, chairman of the league's board of directors, said Beebe had been "an outstanding leader" during challenging times.
Beebe, a former NCAA enforcement director, was commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference for 13 years before joining the Big 12 in 2003 as associate commissioner and chief operating officer. Beebe was named Big 12 commissioner in 2007.
Beebe was publicly credited in April with playing a key role in negotiating the Big 12's television deal with Fox Sports that pays the league about $90 million a year. In his tenure, the Big 12 has won 12 national championships in various sports and a record $145 million was sent to its membership in 2010-11 under the revenue-sharing model he helped arrange.