The University of Washington is attempting to intervene in a lawsuit previously filed by Oregon State and Washington State against the Pac-12 and commissioner George Kliavkoff. The motion, filed in the Whitman County Superior Court on Monday not far from the Washington State campus, seeks to dismiss the complaint brought forth by the Pac-12’s remaining two schools.
At stake in the legal battle is control of conference decision making between now and Aug. 1, 2024, by which point 10 universities will have departed the Pac-12 for various other power conferences.
“UW has a significant stake in opposing WSU and OSU’s claims and preventing the Court from granting the relief requested,” the motion states. “True, UW is leaving the Conference after the 2023-24 academic year. But, in the meantime, UW remains a member of the Conference, and board participation and voting power affects the experience of UW’s athletics teams and student-athletes for the 2023-24 academic year as well as UW’s bargained-for contractual rights and financial interest.”
The nine other Pac-12 schools departing the conference filed a brief in support of the motion. Mediation between Oregon State and Washington State and the 10 departing members is ongoing, but the remaining “Pac-2” programs wish to proceed with their case.
“Our court filings show how our schools are in full compliance with the Pac-12 Bylaws, which prohibit a member from leaving the conference before August 2024 but allow schools to announce a withdrawal that will happen after that date,” the departing universities said in a statement. “We are looking forward to engaging in further candid and constructive conversations that will allow us to reach a fair resolution and position our communities for future success.”
The Superior Court of Washington ruled in favor of Oregon State and Washington State last month, granting a temporary emergency restraining order against the conference that would disable it from conducting any formal board meetings until the court rules further. Oregon State and Washington State contend, according to Pac-12 bylaws, that the 10 departing schools should no longer be represented among the Pac-12’s board of directors by virtue of those schools giving formal notice to exit the conference. In particular, the pair wish to prevent any future decisions that could dissolve the conference or lead to a equal divide of assets.
The potential downfall of the “Conference of Champions” started in 2022 when UCLA and USC announced they were leaving for the Big Ten in Summer 2024. Colorado then kickstarted a new wave of realignment over the summer by announcing it will join the Big 12. One week later, Oregon and Washington announced they were joining the Big Ten; Arizona, Arizona State and Utah followed suit by joining Colorado in the Big 12 in 2024. Cal and Stanford then became the ninth and 10th schools to announce their intention to leave the Pac-12 by joining the ACC, also in 2024.