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WSU, Oregon State file lawsuit against PAC-12

The lawsuit seeks to prevent the departing schools from meeting or trying to take any action regarding the status or governance of the conference.
Credit: AP
FILE - The Pac-12 logo is shown during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Aug. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File)

PULLMAN, Wash. — The two remaining teams in the Pac-12 conference are taking legal action against the conference itself and the commissioner, according to a newly filed lawsuit.

Washington State University (WSU) and Oregon State University (OSU) filed a lawsuit against the conference on Friday. The lawsuit states the schools want to protect the conference's assets, gain access to business information about the conference and confirm who is allowed to vote on decisions within the conference.

Presidents of both WSU and OSU said the legal action is "a critical step that allows the two universities to continue to explore all options for preserving the conference going forward."

The lawsuit states that because ten schools have given notice they are leaving the Pac-12 for another conference, WSU and OSU are now the only schools that make up the conference. This also means that all other schools previously in the conference essentially gave up their membership on the PAC-12 Board of Directors, according to the lawsuit.

Friday's lawsuit seeks to prevent the departing schools from meeting or trying to take any action regarding the status or governance of 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 WSU 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.”

As part of the lawsuit, WSU and OSU are also seeking a temporary restraining order against the Pac-12 and Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff. According to the lawsuit, Kliavkoff asked current and former members of the conference to meet on Sept. 13 to "vote on a go forward governance approach for the conference. The schools say the restraining order would prevent this meeting, stating it "would cause immediate and irreparable harm to OSU, WSU, and the conference."

Essentially, the two remaining schools in the Pac-12, WSU and OSU, want to be the only ones making decisions about 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,” 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 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, said. “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.”

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