Where will WSU go? AD Pat Chun on plan after Pac-12

Aug 10, 2023, 2:13 PM

WSU Cougars...

WSU head coach Jake Dickert walks off the field after a 2021 game. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

(AP Photo/Young Kwak)

It’s been almost a week since the departures of the UW Huskies and Oregon Ducks seemed to signal the end of the Pac-12, and the WSU Cougars are still working to figure out their next step.

Brock Huard, Chris Petersen remember meeting that hinted at Pac-12’s fate

WSU athletic director Pat Chun joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy on Thursday to provide an update on his institution, and he had a lot to share – include some words of optimism for Cougs Nation.

Let’s take a look at some of the key points Chun touched on.

• When will WSU be set with a conference for the future?

That was the first question from co-host Stacy Rost, who asked Chun for a timeline.

His response: “Yesterday.”

Safe to say WSU is feeling a sense of urgency, but the school also understands just how important their decision on a conference will be.

“It’s one of those odd things – there is time, but we recognize there is no time, as well,” he said. “Really, our goal is to put ourselves in the best position possible. Easier said than done, but we will get there when we get there. We met with student athletes I think yesterday, the day before, too. We keep reminding them we’re going to be OK. It’s going to be different, we’re going to be OK, though, and we’ll continue to adapt to whatever environment we’re in.

“… It’s unfortunate we’re here, but like I said, we’ll figure this thing out and we’ll go forward.”

WSU, OSU ponder next moves after being left out of reshuffling

• Are the remaining Pac-12 schools working together?

Yes, but Chun said they’re doing so with the understanding that what’s right for one of the schools may not work for the others.

“All four schools are talking because essentially what is remaining of the Pac-12 is ultimately four institutions, and all of us recognize that we have to do what’s best for our respective institutions,” he said, referring to WSU, Oregon State, Cal and Stanford. “But is there something we could do collectively? I know Washington State would like to go find that out. The communication lines have been clear, and the honesty amongst school presidents and ADs and the candor is there. So we’ll continue to talk, we’ll continue to meet, and we’re all just trying to flesh out what’s the best option for us individually. It may be something for us collectively, it may not be, but we’ll continue to figure out what those options are.”

• WSU still writing its story

While the landscape of college sports is changing, Chun wants to make sure the legacy of WSU doesn’t get overshadowed.

“What is the same? Well, we’re still Washington State. We still have the best logo in all of college athletics,” he said. “We have the second-longest (college football) bowl streak in the Pac-12. We have the reigning women’s basketball champions in the Pac-12. We have volleyball with six or seven consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Men’s basketball with back-to-back postseason appearances. Baseball program, 13th-winningest program in the country. You know, we just capped off a year in which we had a school record of I think $62 million in overall fundraising for athletics. Our TV ratings, if you were to take the Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC, depending on what you’re looking at, we’d be either in the top third or top half. So nothing’s changed. We’re still Washington State.”

The underdog mentality remains strong for the Cougs.

“We’ve been playing schools with higher resources and bigger TV markets for year after year, and we continue to prove our doubters and prove our critics wrong. This is just another opportunity to do that,” Chun said. “… I remind everyone, realignment is far from over. The story of Washington State is going to continue to be written because we will find a way. We have always found a way and we will continue to find a way, but college football is broken right now, NCAA sports are broken right now. Is there a quick fix to that? No. But I also recognize as it continues to break, realignment is going to continue to happen and Washington State is going to continue to position itself in the best way possible.”

Bumpus: What’s next for WSU after UW and Oregon leave Pac-12

With former Cougars wide receiver Michael Bumpus on the other end of the conversation, Chun used him as an example to point out what he thinks makes WSU stand out particularly in its own state.

“We recruit and develop some of the finest young people on this planet, and our young people can see, you know, you’re wired differently when you go to Washington State. Look at Bump – I mean, you do have a little bit of a chip on your shoulder (when you go to WSU). You know, you value things like grittiness and toughness and courage. You value relationships, you value people,” Chun said. “You know, there’s a line in this state that we recognize, and on one side of it, if you’re a Coug, that means something about you. It means something about your heart and means something about your backbone and means something about your commitment to try to get something done.

“So we’re not wavering one inch on what’s ahead of us and we’re going to continue to keep swinging away, and regardless of where we’re at or whatever the ’24-25 year brings us, I remind everyone that this is not the end of us by any stretch of the imagination. This definitely isn’t the end of college realignment. We will continue to push ourselves in the right direction. For what Washington (State) has done over the last century is really an anomaly. There is no school in the country that can continue to outperform its resources, and really, we have the one resource that actually is the greatest difference maker, which are people. And I remind people, Washington State attracts the best people, and when we continue to harness that, that’s why we do outperform our resources. So we’ll keep swinging. The environment’s not easy, but it never has been and we’re going to keep going forward.”

• Chun’s last word

“I would just remind all the Cougs that the frustration, anger, everything you’re feeling are real emotions, and if anything they show how loyal and passionate Cougs are to our institution that we take so much pride in. We’ll continue to work together, we’ll continue to figure our way out of this. I think part of what makes Washington State so great is just the passion and anger and frustration and love that everyone’s expressing about Washington State right now. Those are the types of emotions and human spirit that that make Washington (State) so great and that’s what separates us from everybody else.”

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