WSU

Where WSU, OSU fight with departing Pac-12 members stands

Dec 12, 2023, 5:32 PM | Updated: Dec 13, 2023, 1:14 pm

WSU Cougars Martin Stadium...

A general view from the Martin Stadium field prior to a WSU Cougars game in 2019. (William Mancebo/Getty Images)

(William Mancebo/Getty Images)

WSU and Oregon State are stepping up their fight against the departing members of the Pac-12.

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Last week, Washington State University and Oregon State University blocked a roughly $61 million revenue distribution that would have paid out roughly $5 million to each school, according to Jon Wilner of The Mercury News. WSU and OSU called the decision “responsible,” arguing they are trying to protect the conference’s assets, which are valued at more than $400 million in 2023-24.

“As the only two remaining members, OSU and WSU are the only schools committed to the best interest of the Pac-12,” the schools said in a joint statement. “That means taking responsible steps to protect the assets of the conference and plan for the future.”

The move comes after a Whitman County court ruled in November that WSU and OSU were the sole members of the Pac-12’s governing board. That decision would have given both schools full control of the conference’s finances.

The departing schools asked the Washington Supreme Court to review the decision. The court issued a stay on the ruling, reinstating a temporary restraining order that requires all 12 schools to make decisions unanimously.

The departing 10 schools were expected to file briefs Tuesday in support of the Washington Supreme Court reviewing the lower court’s ruling. A final decision on whether it will be reviewed is expected in the coming days.

WSU and OSU hope to keep the Pac-12 alive by using an NCAA rule that allows conferences to operate with less than eight members for up to two years. They recently entered a scheduling agreement with the Mountain West for next season, but their future still remains murky.

The Pac-12 faces millions in potential liabilities. The conference is a named defendant in the House v. NCAA case. Former Arizona State swimmer Grant House filed the antitrust lawsuit on behalf of NCAA athletes; it seeks millions in backpay for NIL opportunities and a 10% cut of revenue distribution between conferences and networks.

The departing schools have not agreed to a framework on how to handle any liabilities from that lawsuit, which is slated for trial in January 2025 in California.

“No member acting in the Pac-12’s best interest would allow departing schools to drain the Conference’s assets on their way out the door, while they refuse to pay their fair share of the liabilities,” WSU and OSU said.

The 10 departing schools were not pleased with WSU and OSU blocking the payment, arguing that the hundreds of millions in expected revenue due to the conference after their departure in August should be sufficient to support WSU and OSU.

A joint statement by the 10 departing schools reads:

A decision to distribute 15 percent of the more than $400 million in net revenues to the members now to support student athletes, as the conference has always done in December, has nothing to do with the future of the conference. Instead, OSU and WSU’s refusal to agree to it shows that the two schools are abusing their position to injure our programs and athletes in violation of all prior precedents.

The unanimous support that all of our schools gave for the Mountain West agreement demonstrates that OSU and WSU can successfully plan for their future while all members continue to have a say in Pac-12 decisions impacting the current athletics year.

The hundreds of millions of dollars that the conference will receive from existing contracts during the two years after the other schools depart will support plans with the Mountain West and any future plans of the conference.

 

WSU hanging tough in transfer portal

When the Pac-12 got whittled down to two teams because of conference realignment, fans speculated that WSU would see their roster transfer en masse at the end of the season. WSU athletics beat reporter Greg Woods of The Spokesman-Review predicted that 40 or more players could opt to enter.

WSU quarterback Cameron Ward entered the transfer portal after reportedly receiving numerous offers in the seven-figure range. Josh Kelly, the team’s leading wide receiver, entered the portal as well.

But otherwise, WSU hasn’t experienced much roster turnover. So far, WSU has 15 players in the portal, according to portal tracking site On3.com. Of the 15 players, only Kelly and Ward were starters.

More on WSU and the Pac-12

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Brock Huard: ‘College football in its current form is unsustainable’
Pac-12 ends on high note, but future is daunting for WSU and OSU

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