Oregon State And Washington State Gain Control Of Pac-12’s Governing Board Amid Legal Proceedings

Oregon State University (OSU) and Washington State University (WSU) have secured control of the Pac-12’s governing board and financial resources, following a favorable preliminary injunction granted by Whitman County (Washington) Superior Court Judge Gary Libey. The ruling asserts that OSU and WSU are the only remaining voting members of the conference, pending an appeal by the defendant, Washington, representing the 10 departing members.

The decision grants OSU and WSU authority over $400 million in revenue for the current fiscal year and any long-term assets held by the conference post the departure of 10 schools next summer. The court ruling is stayed until the end of the week as the legal process unfolds.

In response to the ruling, WSU President Kirk Schulz and Athletic Director Pat Chun expressed satisfaction, stating that the future of the Pac-12 should be determined by the remaining members. The Pac-12 Board of Directors had taken similar action when USC and UCLA announced their departure over a year ago.

Libey’s ruling includes a stipulation that the 10 outbound schools must be notified of board meetings and allowed to participate, although they are prohibited from voting. Libey emphasized the need for equitable treatment, hinting that a portion of the 2023-24 revenue might be allocated to the departing schools.

The 10 departing schools expressed disappointment with the decision and promptly sought a review from the Washington Supreme Court, requesting a hold on the implementation of the ruling. They argued their right to revenue earned during the 2023-2024 academic year, essential for operating athletics programs and providing student-athlete support services.

The distribution plan for the revenue and management of assets by OSU and WSU is yet to be clarified. One option is a two-team conference for 2024-25, utilizing funds to construct schedules and attract expansion candidates.

OSU President Jayathi Murthy and Athletic Director Scott Barnes expressed their intentions to make reasonable business decisions while seeking collaboration with the departing universities.

Libey’s ruling aligns with arguments presented by OSU and WSU attorneys, asserting that the departing schools relinquished board positions by agreeing to join other conferences. The interpretation of the “notice of withdrawal” section in the Pac-12 bylaws played a crucial role in the court proceedings.

The conference is allowed to operate in the normal course of business until the stay is lifted, as outlined in Libey’s ruling.