Sat, Sep 9, 2023 12:45 PM
By Tom Joyce, The Center Square
Washington State University and Oregon State University are taking legal action against departing member schools of the Pac-12.
The two schools filed a lawsuit on Friday.
In the suit, the schools say they want to protect the conference's assets, get access to business information about the conference, and receive confirmation as to who can vote on decisions in the conference.
The presidents of both schools said in their lawsuit that it is "a critical step that allows the two universities to continue to explore all options for preserving the conference going forward."
In the suit, the two schools mention that they are the only two remaining teams in the conference, meaning that all the other schools effectively gave up their spots on the Pac-12 Board of Directors, they claim.
The two schools want to prevent departing schools from taking any action about 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," Kirk Schulz, President of WSU and Chair of the Pac-12 Board of Directors, said in a news release issued by the schools. "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."
WSU and OSU also want a temporary restraining order from the Pac-12 and Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff.
The lawsuit alleges that Kliavkoff asked current and former Pac-12 conference members to meet on Sept. 13 to "vote on a go-forward governance approach for the conference."
The restraining order would prevent this meeting that the schools allege "would cause immediate and irreparable harm to OSU, WSU, and the conference."
As the only two remaining Pac-12 schools, WSU and OSU want to be the sole decision-makers for issues regarding the conference.
"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," OSU President Jayathi Murthy said in the release. "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 schools feel like allowing the departing Pac-12 schools to make decisions will hurt them.
"The departing Pac-12 schools are slated to inflict irreparable damage to WSU, OSU, and the Conference while reaping a financial windfall," Eric MacMichael, Keker, Van Nest & Peters lead counsel representing OSU, told KREM. "If this meeting moves forward, it will be a clear breach of the Conference bylaws. WSU's and OSU's rights as remaining members will be eviscerated."