AUSTIN, Texas - Staring at extinction, the Big Twelve is once again in play.
The beleaguered conference made a rousing comeback Monday, when Texas declined an invitation to join the Pac-10 and decided to stay in the Big Twelve.
Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M quickly followed the Longhorns by recommitting to the conference after commissioner Dan Beebe convinced his members they would make more money in television and media deals in a 10-team Big Twelve than in a 16-team Pac-10.
A person with direct knowledge of discussions among the Big Twelve's remaining members said Texas is clear to set up its own TV network and keep all proceeds in exchange for remaining in the Big Twelve. The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because final details had not been worked out.
"Everybody is feeling much more confident the Big Twelve is going to survive," the person said. "Everybody's going to be making more money."
All that talk about the Pac-16, the first super conference that would span from Seattle to the Lone Star State? Done.
"University of Texas president Bill Powers has informed us that the 10 remaining schools in the Big Twelve Conference intend to stay together," Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement.
Powers declined comment when asked by the AP about details of the deal that kept Big Twelve together.
The conference, born in 1996 when the Big Eight merged with members of the Southwestern Conference, seemed to be falling apart last week when Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-10) decided to leave over the next two years. Now the Big Twelve its back, though there are still questions about how it will conduct its business.
Among those that still need to be answered by Beebe is how and why the Big Twelve will be more lucrative now, especially when it cannot hold a conference title game with only 10 members.
Beebe did not return phone messages Monday, but plans to hold a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.
Last year, Big Twelve schools divided between $7 million and $10 million each depending on how many appearances they made on regional and national TV. At Big Twelve meetings earlier this month, Beebe said he expected huge increases in rights fees from both Fox and ESPN.
The more lucrative contract with ESPN runs through the 2015-16 academic year, while the Fox deal is reportedly in its final two years.
The news about the Longhorns, Sooners and the rest of the Big Twelve South powers staying put was especially good for Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Iowa State, and Missouri - the five schools in danger of being left homeless if the conference dissolved.