Oregon State and Washington State appear to be making contingency plans to operate as a two-school conference next season while their lawsuit against the Pac-12 winds through state court.
A new court filing on Tuesday confirmed that OSU and WSU won’t win control of the conference for at least a month.
Around the same time that the filing was sent to reporters, news broke that the schools are in the “final stages” of creating a football “scheduling partnership” with the Mountain West for next year. The Pac-2 would shell out $14 million in fees to the Mountain West.
In September, the schools sued the Pac-12 in order to determine who has control of the conference after the other 10 members signaled their plans to depart next year.
A judge recently granted a preliminary injunction stating that the “Pac-2” have sole control of the board until a trial can provide a final ruling. The decision effectively granted the schools power of the conference’s assets, liabilities, and intellectual property.
But on Tuesday, Washington’s Supreme Court commissioner issued a decision stating the Pac-2 won’t be able to take control of the conference board until there is another ruling on an appeal in the decision — which won’t come until at least mid-December.
“The decision effectively ensures that all 12 current members will have an equal voice in determining how the revenue our schools earned this year is distributed and utilized while the Court considers our arguments,” the 10 departing schools said in a statement.
The decision cast doubt on the lower court that, per Pac-12 bylaws, the 10 departing schools no longer have eligibility to participate or vote on the conference’s board. “In short, this is a debatable issue,” the commissioner wrote.
In a joint statement, WSU and OSU spokespeople said they were “disappointed” in the ruling. “We did not create or seek these circumstances, but Oregon State and Washington State remain committed to taking aggressive action to protect our universities, ensure accountability and transparency, safeguard student-athletes and the Pac-12 Conference, and preserve our options moving forward,” they said.
The spokespeople added they’ll be seeking a review of the latest decision.
The schools won’t be able to determine the future of the Pac-12 by the end of the calendar year.
The scheduling partnership with the Mountain West will offer fans, players, and potential recruits and transfers at least some semblance of what their season could look like next year. After all, it will likely pit the schools against programs they could play in a rebuilt Pac-12 — or in the Mountain West if they decide to join the conference.
The Pac-2 will have a grace period to attempt to rebuild an eight-member conference and maintain their FBS eligibility, according to NCAA rules. But because of a recent College Football Playoff decision, they likely won’t be eligible to participate in the expanded 12-team CFP.