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Judge Blocks Pac-12 Meeting as Battle Over Conference Voting Rights Heats up

Published on Wednesday, September 13, 2023 | 2:45 pm
 
PAC 12 Conference via Facebook

Earlier this week, a superior court judge in Washington ruled in favor of Oregon State and Washington State granting a temporary emergency restraining order against the Pac-12.

The college football conference was scheduled to discuss the future of the Pac-12, but several schools that have already announced they were leaving the beleaguered conference were scheduled to attend with full voting rights on the conference’s future.

Oregon State and Washington State, which are the only remaining Pac-12 members beyond the 2023-24 academic year, filed a complaint against the conference and commissioner George Kliavkoff last week.

The complaint seeks to prevent any votes on the Pac-12’s future from occurring until legal clarity is obtained on who controls what is left of the conference. According to the two universities, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Stanford and California — forfeited their right to be on the board when they announced their intentions to join other conferences next year.

USC and UCLA were stripped of voting power after they announced intentions to leave last year. The move by the Trojans and the Bruins, respectively, came as the Pac-12 was attempting to negotiate a new media deal.

Both teams are playing their final season in the Pac-12 this season.

Representatives for the university expressed fear that the departing schools could potentially dissolve the conference or lead to equal divides of assets.

“Ten schools have given notice that they are leaving the Pac-12 for other conferences,” Oregon State and Washington State officials said in a statement on Sept. 8. “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 University and Washington State University now constitute the entire membership of the Pac-12 Board of Directors, according to Oregon State President Jayathi Murthy and Washington State President Kirk Schulz

Colorado announced a return to the Big 12 in July. Oregon and Washington announced their departure to the Big Ten one week, while Utah, Arizona State and Arizona joined in the Big 12. Cal and Stanford then became the final defections earlier this month when they were accepted into the ACC.

“We are very pleased with the court’s decision today. It has always been our view that future of the Pac-12 should be determined by the remaining members, not by those that are leaving the conference,” said Washington State president Kirk Schulz in a statement. “This position is consistent with the action the Pac-12 Board of Directors first took when the first two schools [USC and UCLA] announced their departure from the conference more than a year ago.”

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