WSU, OSU announce agreement with departing Pac-12 schools



(The Center Square) – Washington State University and Oregon State University have announced an “agreement in principle” to resolve litigation against 10 other schools leaving the Pac-12 Athletic Conference next year.

The agreement comes after the Washington State Supreme Court last week restored a lower court’s order that currently grants control of the conference to OSU and WSU.

The announcement “marks a huge victory for our universities and a significant step toward stabilizing the Pac-12 Conference and preserving its 108-year legacy,” OSU President Jayathi Murthy and WSU President Kirk Schulz said in a joint statement Thursday.

They said the conference retains its assets and all future revenues, and the departing schools have agreed to forfeit a portion of distributions over the remainder of the 2023-2024 year.

The agreement also provides specific guarantees against potential future liabilities, said Murthy and Schulz.

“This agreement ensures that the future of the Pac-12 will be decided by the schools that are staying, not those that are leaving,” they said. “We look forward to what the future holds for our universities, our student-athletes, the Pac-12 Conference, and millions of fans.”

In September, WSU and OSU filed a lawsuit in Whitman County Superior Court against the Pac-12 and commissioner George Kliavkoff, contending the departing schools forfeited their right to control operations, address liabilities, and distribute assets worth millions of dollars.

At dispute was a provision in the conference bylaws over the timing of a member school’s formal notice of withdrawal from the conference without invoking penalties.

In June 2022, the southern California schools of USC and UCLA publicly announced plans to leave after Aug. 1, 2024 – the key date in question – to join the Big Ten Conference. By the end of this summer, eight other conference schools – Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford, Utah and Washington – announced similar intentions to join the Big Ten, the Big 12 Conference, or the Atlantic Coast Conference next August.

The departures came after Kliavkoff and the Pac-12’s governing board of university presidents and chancellors couldn’t agree on negotiations of a new television/media revenue package.

On Nov. 14, Whitman County Judge Gary Libey issued an injunction saying that only Murthy and Schulz could be voting members of the conference board of directors.

The next day, the Pac-12 and the University of Washington petitioned the Washington Supreme Court to review that ruling, but the high court declined last Friday and allowed the injunction issued by Libey to remain in place.

“In September, as the two remaining members of the Pac-12 Conference, Oregon State University and Washington State University were forced to act swiftly to protect the future viability of the Pac-12,” Murthy and Schulz said in their announcement. “Thanks to the determination and strength of Beaver Nation and Cougar Nation and the excellence of our student-athletes, coaches, and staff, we are now closer to achieving our goal.”

Information was not immediately available regarding specific terms of the agreement and whether a formal settlement will be offered for the court to consider. Nor did Thursday’s announcement specify the value of the Pac-12’s current assets or how much money the departing universities will forfeit in distributions this school year.

Along with football, the Pac-12 Conference currently includes 23 other sports for 11 men’s and 13 women’s programs.

WSU and OSU have scheduled football games against each other and opponents in the Mountain West Conference in 2024. Schulz also announced last month that the Apple Cup football rivalry with the University of Washington will continue for at least five years, and OSU and the University of Oregon have scheduled in-state football clashes in 2024 and 2025.

Earlier this fall, the NCAA confirmed that the Pac-12 can operate as a two-team conference through 2026. And there are reports that WSU and OSU are nearing an agreement with the West Coast Conference for their other sports teams to compete as affiliates for two years beginning in 2024.

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