Wednesday November 29, 2023

Washington State Supreme Court Puts ‘Pac-2’ Control On Hold

  • The 10 departing schools, led by Washington, asked the Washington State Supreme Court to delay an order that OSU and WSU can take control.
  • The Washington Supreme Court has not agreed to review the appeal yet, but did agree to delay the order.
A court has delayed Washington State and Oregon State's ability to take control of the Pac-12.
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
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Oregon State and Washington State will not be able to take control of the Pac-12 for at least a month, according to a court ruling.

On Tuesday, a local judge ruled that Washington State and Oregon State — the only two remaining Pac-12 schools — can take control of the conference until the case goes to a trial. But Washington, which added itself as a defendant in the lawsuit in order to speak for departing schools, swiftly requested that the state Supreme Court court block this decision.

On Thursday, the Washington Supreme Court agreed to prohibit the WSU/OSU decision from going into effect temporarily. 

The court has not issued a decision on whether it will hear the appeal, however. OSU and WSU will have until Nov. 28 to file a response — and the 10 departing schools have until Dec. 8 to file a counter. 

If the court declines to review the appeal, OSU and WSU might be able to take control of the conference at that point — which could be in about a month, Kennyhertz Perry sports attorney Mit Winter confirmed to Front Office Sports.

Until then, the Pac-12 will have to abide by a previous ruling requiring all 12 schools to agree to convene on any board matters before they are discussed and voted upon.

“The departing schools are only delaying the inevitable because the superior court clearly got it right:  Under the bylaws, the Conference’s future must be decided by the schools that stay, not those that are leaving,” OSU and WSU spokespersons Rob Odom said in a statement to FOS.

The departing schools rushed to delay the implementation of the Tuesday decision to prevent their stated fear: that WSU and OSU will hoard conference resources for themselves, as they would control all assets, liabilities, and intellectual property.

“If OSU and WSU seize control of the Board, they will be free to swiftly re-write the Conference’s rules, terminate or suspend members, and distribute the Conference’s hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues to the detriment of the student-athletes of the ten remaining Conference members,” Washington wrote in its brief.

Representatives for the OSU/WSU camp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit itself centers around the question of control of the Pac-12’s board given its current bylaws. OSU and WSU argued that the bylaws suggest schools immediately forfeit their seats on the board upon notifying the conference that they intend to leave. USC and UCLA, they said in court documents, were subject to this rule after their announcement in 2022.

WSU and OSU have, themselves, produced evidence suggesting the 10 departing schools planned to gang up on them in board meetings to divert funds to their own conference transition costs. The two leftovers have been vocal about further fears that the others aim to dissolve the conference entirely.

However, the departing schools have tried repeatedly to convince the court that that interpretation is incorrect. They made the same legal arguments in their appeal to the Washington state Supreme Court.

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