Washington Supreme Court pauses Oregon State, Washington State's control of Pac-12 Conference

On3 imageby:Eric Prisbell11/16/23


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Oregon State and Washington State don’t have full control of the Pac-12 just yet – and the league’s board can’t meet at this time without unanimous consent of all Pac-12 members.

The Washington State Supreme Court on Thursday entered a temporary stay of the preliminary injunction granted to the Pac-2 until the motion for an emergency stay can be ruled upon.

The stay comes two days after Whitman County (Washington) Superior Court Judge Gary Libey granted Oregon State and Washington State a preliminary injunction, which gave the two schools long-sought control over the governance of the Pac-12 board.

Even after Tuesday’s ruling, a protracted process was expected. Libey himself said his ruling would stand only as long as it takes for the defendants – the Pac-12’s 10 departing schools and commissioner George Kliavkoff – to appeal in the state Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has yet to decide whether it will review the appeal.

This is a high-stakes lawsuit that will determine the future of a 108-year-old Conference of Champions and control of millions in current and future league assets.

During the temporary stay and “until further order of the court, the temporary restraining order issued by the Superior Court on Sept. 11 shall remain in effect, prohibiting the Pac-12 Conference Board of Directors from holding any board meeting and from taking any action without the unanimous consent of all Pac-12 Conference members,” Supreme Court Deputy Commissioner Walter M. Burton wrote in a court filing.

Any answer to the emergency motion for stay needs to be filed with the Supreme Court by Nov. 28. And the 10 departing schools then have until Dec. 8 to respond to that.

“The departing schools are only delaying the inevitable because the superior court clearly got it right,” the two schools said in a joint statement. “Under the bylaws, the Conference’s future must be decided by the schools that stay, not those that are leaving.”

What’s next for remaining Pac-12 schools?

Oregon State and Washington State are facing a time crunch as they look to solidify plans for 2024 and beyond.

They are working toward a scheduling alliance, at least in the short term, with the Mountain West Conference. They would like to ultimately rebuild the Pac-12. NCAA rules stipulate that a FBS conference must have eight members, but there is a two-year grace period.

Additionally, the Dec. 4 opening of the transfer portal is fast approaching, with both schools potentially facing a mass exodus of players if their future leagues remain unclear.

The 10 departing schools have contended OSU and WSU aren’t merely trying to seize control over assets like some $60 million in future NCAA tournament financial units. They say OSU and WSU are trying to control league revenue for the 2023-24 year, which court documents ballpark at $420 million. That money could be used to offset exit fees for new schools eager to join a rebuilt Pac-12, they say.