Ex-Big 12 commish: I never talked to Leach during a game

Ex-Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe says a report that Mike Leach called him during a game to complain about officiating is false.
 
Beebe disputed the claim when reached by phone on Thursday afternoon.
 
Former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell sat down for a public interview before the Red Raiders’ game against Kansas State in Lubbock last Saturday and said Leach pulled out his cell phone on the sidelines of a 59-43 loss to Texas in 2007 to complain to Beebe about the officiating.
 
“I can remember in the third quarter, he’s pulling his cell phone out,” Harrell said. “He always talked to me between series, so he’s talking to me and he pulls his cell phone out. He called the Big 12 commissioner. He’s like cussing out the Big 12 commissioner, telling him like, ‘These refs are screwing us. You better watch my postgame press conference because I’ve got some stuff to say.'”
 
Beebe was adamant that the incident never happened.
 
“That’s just silly,” he said. “I’ve never talked to a coach during a football game.”
 
Beebe suggested that perhaps Harrell didn’t remember correctly, or that Leach had faked the phone call as a motivational tactic on the sidelines to rally his team. After the game, Leach ripped the officiating, including a reference to head official Randy Christal, who lived in Austin.
 
“What I remember is that he had violated the sportsmanship principles, and I was obligated to enforce them,” Beebe said. “The issue wasn’t just that he criticized the officials, he went further than that, which resulted in a fine, and he indicated that they were being biased and deliberately making calls that favored Texas.”
 
Leach was fined $10,000 for his postgame comments. Beebe said he still keeps in contact with Leach and recently met with him during a visit to Washington State for his new venture.
 
Beebe now lives in Kansas City and heads up Dan Beebe Group, which focuses on risk management and specializes in bullying, abuse and harassment in the workplace. Clients include the Houston Texans as well as athletic departments at Auburn and Florida.
 
“Isn’t the journalistic principle to try and contact and verify?” Beebe said, later adding, “I can tell you in my 20-plus years of conference office work as commissioner and deputy and commissioner again, I never, ever talked to a coach during a contest in any sport in a phone call.”
 
Beebe served on the selection committee for the NCAA basketball tournament, which meant he often sat courtside instead of a usual spot in a box as commissioner. Sometimes coaches would make comments to him during games then, but never engaged in any lengthy dialogue.
 
“I never had a conversation with a coach during a game about officiating while they were coaching a game,” Beebe said. “I don’t know where he got that.”
 
Beebe served as Big 12 commissioner from 2007-11 before being pushed out in the midst of realignment while Texas A&M and Missouri worked through their eventual moves to the SEC.  He received a $4.5 million settlement and was replaced by interim commissioner Chuck Neinas before Bob Bowlsby took over the full-time job in 2012.