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Oregon State, Washington State say Pac-12’s actions show departing schools should not run conference

Schools want to be in control of conference since they aren’t moving

By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer
Published: October 25, 2023, 3:17pm

Oregon State and Washington State claim the actions of the Pac-12 and Commissioner George Kliavkoff in response to members announcing their intent to leave the conference in 2024 show those departing schools relinquished their rights to decide the long-term future of the league.

In a filing submitted Wednesday in Washington State Superior Court, Oregon State and Washington State made the case they alone should be in control of the Pac-12 and its assets as the only members of the conference that have not announced they are joining another league on Aug. 1, 2024.

A preliminary injunction hearing in the school’s lawsuit against the Pac-12 is scheduled for Nov. 14.

At issue is who gets to decide what happens to the Pac-12 between now and when 10 schools officially leave for their new conferences.

“The Pac-12 cannot continue to be paralyzed at such a critical time,” Washington State and Oregon State said in a joint statement. “The future of the Pac-12 should be decided by the schools that stay, not those that leave.”

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.

The Pacific Northwest schools took the conference to court in September over who gets to sit on the board of directors and vote on Pac-12 business that affect the conference beyond this school year.

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.

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, UCLA, Southern California, 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 Pac-12 members.

In the latest filing, Washington State and Oregon State say the Pac-12 bylaws state that a member loses a seat on the board when it “delivers a notice of withdrawal prior to August 1, 2024” and that the member does not have to actually withdraw from the conference before that date to lose voting privileges.

The filing says Klivakoff, in multiple sworn declarations, said USC and UCLA automatically “were removed as Board representatives under the Constitution and Bylaws following their notice of withdrawal from the Pac-12” in the summer of 2022.

The conference also informed Colorado it would be removed from the board the day after the school notified the Pac-12 that it planned to leave for the Big 12 this past August, according the filing.

Lastly, according to the filing, Kliavkoff sent a text message to representatives of Oregon State, Washington State, Stanford and Cal following announcements by Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah on Aug. 4 that they were leaving for new conferences stating: “(a)s of today we have 4 board members.”

A month later, Stanford and Cal announced they were joining the Atlantic Coast Conference next year.

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