Oregon State University and Washington State University are asking a judge to confirm that they now have complete control over the Pac-12 conference and its assets.
OSU and WSU will be the final two schools in the conference come next summer. The other 10 schools, including the University of Oregon, are planning to leave for other conferences by next August. The Ducks will join the Big Ten along with Washington, USC and UCLA.
In a news release from OSU, the schools claim that the Pac-12 bylaws state that a member school is automatically removed from the conference’s board of directors once they give a notice of withdrawal.
“Therefore, Oregon State and Washington State now constitute the entire membership of the Pac-12 Board of Directors,” the news release reads.
The schools say the Pac-12 commissioner is trying to schedule a meeting with current and former members for next Wednesday to vote on a “go forward governance approach” for the conference. OSU and WSU say they want a temporary restraining order to prevent that meeting.
The schools also say they want to gain access to business information. and protect the conference’s assets.
The legal action is filed in Whitman County, Washington, where WSU is located.
You can read the full news release below:
CORVALLIS, Ore. and PULLMAN, Wash. – Oregon State University and Washington State University, the two remaining members of the Pac-12 Conference, initiated legal action today to confirm the governance structure of the conference, gain access to business information, and protect the conference’s assets. This is a critical step that allows the two universities to continue to explore all options for preserving the conference going forward, according to Oregon State President Jayathi Murthy and Washington State President Kirk Schulz.
Ten schools have given notice that they are leaving the Pac-12 for other conferences. According to the Pac-12 constitution and bylaws, if a member school gives notice of withdrawal, they automatically cease to be a member of the Pac-12 Board of Directors. Therefore, Oregon State and Washington State now constitute the entire membership of the Pac-12 Board of Directors.
Oregon State and Washington State brought this action against the conference and Pac-12 commissioner in the state of Washington requesting a temporary restraining order. The filing seeks to prevent the Pac-12 from permitting the departing members of the Pac-12 Board of Directors from meeting and attempting to take any action regarding the status or governance of the conference in ways that preclude OSU and WSU from potentially rebuilding the conference. The universities will be pursuing a declaratory judgement from the court confirming OSU and WSU as the sole remaining voting members of the Pac-12 Board of Directors, according to today’s filing.
The Pac-12 commissioner recently asked current and former members of the Pac-12 board to meet on Sept. 13 to vote on a “go forward governance approach” for the conference, in violation of the Pac-12 constitution and by-laws, according to the filing. The temporary restraining order seeks to prevent this meeting or similar action, which would cause immediate and irreparable harm to OSU, WSU, and the conference.
“We owe it to our student-athletes, coaches, and fans to do everything in our power to protect the Pac-12 Conference and explore all future options,” said Kirk Schulz, President of Washington State University and Chair of the Pac-12 Board of Directors. “WSU and OSU are working in lockstep to identify the best path forward. The future of the Pac-12 must be determined by the remaining members, not by those who are leaving.”
The requested temporary restraining order seeks to allow OSU and WSU to make reasonable business decisions for the conference while continuing to seek collaboration and consultation with departing universities on any ultimate financial decisions.
“As the two remaining member institutions of the Pac-12, we are stepping forward with urgency to safeguard the integrity of the conference and preserve its legacy on behalf of student-athletes, fans and the conference itself,” said OSU President Jayathi Murthy. “We’ve heard the voices of constituents at home and from across the West about how much the Pac-12 and our regional rivalries mean to them. We are linking arms and fighting on their behalf.”
The legal brief filed by OSU and WSU states that the other schools in the Pac-12 forfeited their right to vote on conference matters when they announced their withdrawal from the league. As future members of competing conferences, these universities now have a clear conflict of interest in making decisions that are in the best interest of the Pac-12. This is consistent with action the board took when the first two schools announced their departure from the conference more than a year ago.
The action has been filed in Whitman County Superior Court in Washington state. Copies of the legal documents are available at the links below: