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Departing Pac-12 schools say in court filing they should stay in board of directors until they leave

UW makes case schools should not be removed from board while still part of conference

By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer
Published: November 2, 2023, 5:14pm

Ten departing Pac-12 schools claim they should have a say in running the conference until they officially leave in August and Oregon State and Washington State are not entitled to seize control of “hundreds of millions of dollars” of revenue the league will earn in 2023-24.

In a filing submitted Thursday in Washington State Superior Court, the Pac-12 and the University of Washington made the case conference bylaws do not allow schools to be removed from the board of directors while still competing in the league.

“Granting OSU and WSU unilateral authority over hundreds of millions of dollars in 2023-2024 revenue needed this year to run our athletics programs would harm our universities, including our ability to provide critical resources and opportunities for our student-athletes,” the 10 departing schools said in a statement.

Washington State and Oregon State are seeking a preliminary injunction, claiming the departing members relinquished their rights to decide the long-term future of the league as soon as they announced they were leaving.

A hearing in the schools’ lawsuit against the Pac-12 is scheduled for Nov. 14.

Officials from Oregon State and Washington State have said they would like to rebuild the Pac-12, and they are trying to assess the conference’s assets — which are likely in the tens of millions of dollars — and liabilities.

“Today’s filing is yet another attempt by the departing schools to ignore conference Bylaws and prevent OSU and WSU from exercising their right to govern the future of the Pac-12,” Oregon State and Washington State said in a statement.

The Pacific Northwest schools took the conference and Commissioner George Kliavkoff to court in September over who gets to sit on the board of directors and vote on Pac-12 business.

Washington Superior Court Judge Gary Libey granted on Sept. 11 a request by Oregon State and Washington State for a temporary restraining order to prevent Kliavkoff from convening a Pac-12 board meeting with representatives from any of the 10 departing members.

The judge did allow the conference to conduct day-to-day business, saying any decisions need to be made by unanimous vote. The defendants said Thursday the status quo should remain in place.

Earlier this month, the University of Washington asked to intervene in the case and for the court to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Oregon State and Washington State.

The departing schools, which include Washington, Oregon, USC, UCLA, Stanford, California, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado, claim they have been precluded from the legal process because only the Pac-12 and Kliavkoff are listed as defendants in the lawsuit.

A mediation process is also ongoing between Oregon State and Washington State and the 10 departing members.

In last week’s filing, Washington State and Oregon State cited multiple sworn statements made by Kliavkoff and actions by the conference after USC, UCLA and Colorado announced they were joining new leagues in 2024 as proof that departing members are immediately removed from the board.

“Their lawsuit stems from a flawed interpretation of the Pac-12 Bylaws, which were drafted and ratified by all 12 schools to ensure an equal revenue distribution for every member who remains in the Conference throughout the current media rights deal, which ends in summer 2024,” the 10 schools said.

The legal wranglings have further complicated the future for Oregon State and Washington State. The two schools have yet to announce plans for next year. A two-team conference is permitted by NCAA rules for two years, though some type of partnership with Mountain West schools is also likely as the school try to fill out schedules for all their sports.

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The status of the in-state rivalry football games between Oregon State and Oregon and Washington State and Washington are also in limbo.

Oregon released its full schedule for its first season in the Big Ten on Thursday and it did not include a game against the Beavers. The schools would have to buyout of existing games to make it work.

Washington, which is also heading for the Big Ten, and Washington State both have room on their 2024 schedules to include the Apple Cup.

But with the schools currently battling in the court room, no deals can be made to schedule football games.