Pac-12 members announce settlement, will end litigation

On3 imageby:Nick Schultz12/21/23

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The departing Pac-12 members have agreed to a settlement that will end their current litigation. The decision comes less than a week after the Washington Supreme Court gave Oregon State and Washington State full control of the conference as 10 schools prepare to leave.

In a brief joint statement, the 12 conference members announced an “agreement in principle” that will end litigation. Oregon State and Washington State released a joint statement on the decision, detailing the implications of the decision.

The departing universities will give up parts of their distributions for the rest of the school year while the conference “retains its current assets and future revenues.”

“In September, as the two remaining members of the Pac-12 Conference, Oregon State University and Washington State University were forced to act swiftly to protect the future viability of the Pac-12,” the statement read. “Thanks to the determination and strength of Beaver Nation and Cougar Nation and the excellence of our student-athletes, coaches and staff, we are now closer to achieving our goal. Today’s news marks a huge victory for our universities and a significant step toward stabilizing the Pac-12 Conference and preserving its 108-year legacy.

“The departing schools have agreed to forfeit a portion of distributions over the remainder of the 2023-2024 year and provide specific guarantees against future liabilities. The conference retains its assets and all future revenues. This agreement ensures that the future of the Pac-12 will be decided by the schools that are staying, not those that are leaving. We look forward to what the future holds for our universities, our student-athletes, the Pac-12 Conference and millions of fans.”

As the conference realignment wins blew this summer, the Pac-12 found itself in the middle of it all. The conference was working to put together a new media rights deal in light of USC and UCLA’s departures for the Big Ten, announced in late June 2022. However, an agreement didn’t come to fruition, and the rest of the schools scattered.

Oregon and Washington are joining USC and UCLA in the Big Ten, while the Four Corners schools — Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah — are heading to the Big 12. Cal and Stanford later shared their intention to join the ACC, leaving Oregon State and Washington State to figure out what’s next.

All those changes are effective after the 2023-24 season, which is why OSU and WSU argued the schools leaving the Pac-12 forfeited their voting rights under conference bylaws. At the center of the conversation was some $60 million in NCAA Tournament units, On3’s Eric Prisbell reported. Last week, the Washington Supreme Court denied the conference’s review, giving the two schools the controls.

Meanwhile, Oregon State and Washington State were also planning out their next moves. The two football programs came to a scheduling agreement with the Mountain West, and all other sports except baseball are expected to join the West Coast Conference.

Now with full control of the conference — and no more legal battles on the horizon — it looks like the conversation will continue about the future of the Pac-12.