Oregon State, Washington State granted sole governing authority over Pac-12 by judge

On3 imageby:Andrew Graham11/14/23


A Whitman County, Washington, judge ruled on Tuesday evening that Oregon State University and Washington State University, as the lone remaining members of the Pac-12 Conference going forward, have sole authority over the league. The order will go into effect at the end of the week, at the request of the Pac-12’s attorneys.

The Pac-12 reportedly plans to appeal the decision. But come Friday, the Beavers and Cougars will take over governance of the league and its roughly $400 million in annual assets.

The other 10 departing Pac-12 schools will remain on the league board and be allowed to attend meetings, where they can offer comments and offer feedback, but they will not have voting power.

OSU and WSU filed suit in Whitman County shortly after the Pac-12 unraveled earlier in 2023, with an exodus of schools to either the Big Ten or Big 12. Pullman, Washington, where WSU is located, lies within Whitman County.

As the two schools left in what many have dubbed the “Pac-2,” Oregon State and Washington State made the case that they should be the lone voices in shaping how the league — and its sizable array of assets — will be used.

The 10 schools that were leaving the league pushed back, but ultimately superior court judge Gary Libey sided with the plaintiffs. Libey granted OSU and WSU the preliminary injunction both schools have sought.

“I grew up where conduct spoke louder than words,” Libey said shortly before issuing his ruling.

Fellow Pac-12 schools sought to dismiss the suit

The University of Washington decided to represent the 10 outgoing Pac-12 schools in the matter, filing a motion in October to join the lawsuit brought on by Washington State and Oregon State in an effort to dismiss it.

WSU and OSU, who jointly filed the lawsuit on Sept. 9 arguing a breach of bylaws and even went as far as requesting a temporary restraining order, as they saw the other Pac-12 schools as an “imminent and existential threat,” to preserving the conference.

The two remaining Pac-12 teams released a statement, condemning Washington for attempting to dismiss the suit on their way out the door.

“The departing schools continue to undermine our efforts to secure the future of the Pac-12 Conference,” the two schools said in a statement provided by Jon Wilner on X. “They are relying on flimsy arguments to try to escape accountability for their actions. It won’t work. Their decisions directly damaged the Pac-12 and are causing real harm to the Conference, OSU, WSU, student-athletes, and the people of Oregon and Washington.

“We did not create or seek these circumstances, but OSU and WSU will continue to take whatever actions are necessary to protect our universities, ensure accountability and transparency, safeguard the Pac-12 Conference, and preserve our options moving forward. The future of the Pac-12 should be decided by the schools who stay, not those who go.”