A judge ruled Tuesday that Oregon State and Washington State will be the sole governing members of the Pac-12 Conference board, following the defections of 10 other member schools in the past 18 months.
Whitman County (Washington) Superior Court Judge Gary Libey ruled in favor of the two schools, upholding a temporary emergency restraining order he issued in September that prevented the Pac-12 from holding formal board meetings until further rulings.
Oregon State and Washington State had argued that as the sole remaining schools, they should have control over the conference’s future.
OSU and WSU had sued the 10 departing Pac-12 schools and commissioner George Kliavkoff, arguing that giving them votes on the board without a stake going forward would hurt the Pac-12’s chances to reorganize. There were even concerns the departing conference members could vote to liquidate the conference and take their share of assets.
However, the 10 departing schools claim that Oregon State and Washington State could use league assets to entice schools from other conferences, such as the Mountain West, to join. League revenues from the 2023-24 year are estimated at more than $400 million.
The Pac-12’s current TV contract, a 12-year, $3 billion deal with Fox and ESPN, expires in 2024.
Libey noted that his ruling is “not a shutout” for the 10 departing schools. The ruling only stands until the issue is appealed to the state supreme court, which is expected.
“Nobody is going to take advantage of somebody else,” he said (via On3.com).
The Pac-12’s unexpected meltdown began in June 2022 when USC and UCLA announced plans to join the Big Ten. Colorado departed for the Big 12 in July. Oregon and Washington then headed to the Big Ten. Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State then joined the Buffaloes in the Big 12. Cal and Stanford announced their plans to join the ACC in September.