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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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The Pac-12’s Departing Members Have Inked Their Divorce Contract 

  • The settlement agreement, obtained by ‘FOS,’ is a direct resolution to a lawsuit brought this past fall.
  • OSU and WSU will likely have more than $100 million in cash to start their new two-member conference.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The members of the Pac-12 have finalized their divorce papers—and the terms are very amenable to Oregon State and Washington State, the two schools that will remain in the conference come this summer.

On Monday, 12 existing schools confirmed that they have signed a settlement agreement regarding revenue distribution and voting rights in the Pac-12 going forward. (The settlement agreement was first reported by The Mercury News.) The settlement is a direct resolution to the lawsuit brought by Oregon State and Washington State last fall over who had voting power on the conference’s board, and therefore the ability to control all its assets, intellectual property, and even potential dissolution.

The conference’s two remaining members, WSU and OSU, appear to have a nine-figure financial cushion to use going forward. This cushion, as well as the entire conference, is now under the direction and leadership of new commissioner Teresa Gould, who began a two-year tenure March 1.

The 10 departing schools will each be able to take all but $6.5 million of their full 2024 conference distribution to their new homes, according to a copy of the agreement obtained by Front Office Sports. The leftover total of $65 million, made up of two separate fees, will remain with the conference entity and be in the control of WSU and OSU going forward. As expected, the schools will not have any claims to future revenue with a few exceptions—all of which were redacted from the contract. 

The rest of that cushion will come from the conference’s other assets. Their exact amount is unclear, but court documents suggested the conference had $43 million in net assets in 2022 excluding the Pac-12 Networks, which brought in about $50 million in net revenue.

If the conference dissolves before the last day of the fiscal year 2026, assets will be distributed among WSU and OSU as well as departing schools. But if the conference dissolves after that date, OSU and WSU can split the spoils for themselves. (It’s highly likely that the latter situation will come to pass, given that WSU and OSU have solidified their participation in the College Football Playoff for the next two years, and the conference has scheduling partnerships for all sports between now and the end of ’25–26.)

As for voting power, the main question in the lawsuit this fall, the Pac-12’s departing schools have agreed to have voting power only for issues that impact the 2024 season. They also have agreed to not attempt to dissolve the conference.

In a joint statement, OSU president Jayathi Murthy and WSU president Kirk Schulz called the agreement “fair and equitable.” The departing schools said they were “pleased” to finalize the agreement.

The conference unraveled this past summer, after previous commissioner George Kliavkoff failed to deliver a media-rights contract that the schools considered lucrative and stable. Stanford and Cal will join the ACC. Oregon, Washington, USC, and UCLA will become members of the Big Ten. Arizona State, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado will depart for the Big 12. Starting next year, the Pac-12 will be a two-member conference.

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