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:
For more information about Oregon State athletic conference realignment visit: https://leadership.oregonstate.edu/president/athletic-conference-realignment.
About Oregon State University: As one of only three land, sea, space and sun grant universities in the nation, Oregon State serves Oregon and the world by working on today’s most pressing issues. Our more than 36,000 students come from across the globe, and our programs operate in every Oregon county. Oregon State receives more research funding than all of the state’s comprehensive public universities combined. At our campuses in Corvallis and Bend, marine research center in Newport, OSU Portland Center and award-winning Ecampus, we excel at shaping today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders.