PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A judge granted a request by Oregon State and Washington State for a temporary restraining order on Monday to prevent departing Pac-12 members from meeting until it can be determined who has the right to make up the disintegrating conference’s board of directors.
At a hearing in Whitman County Superior Court in Washington, Judge Gary Libey ruled that a meeting scheduled for later this week with conference commissioner George Kliavkoff and university leaders from 10 departing members cannot take place.
Oregon State and Washington State want full control over decision-making for the conference as the only schools committed to the conference beyond the current school year. The schools filed the breach of bylaws complaint Friday.
“I am pleased with today’s decision. As the two remaining Pac-12 members, Oregon State and Washington State must be able to chart a path forward for the Pac-12 – not the members that have chosen to leave it. We are confident in the merits of our position and look forward to working in a collaborative manner with the conference and departing members on a productive path forward. OSU and WSU, along with Pac-12 staff, have important work to do to protect the 2023-2024 seasons for all 12 schools’ student-athletes and plan for our future,” Oregon State University President Jayathi Murthy.
Leaders of the Pacific Northwest schools have stated they would like to rebuild the Pac-12, taking control of its assets and intellectual property while preserving its brand. They say they fear the outgoing schools will try to dissolve the conference and divvy up its assets.
Oregon State and Washington State contend that eight schools —- 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 rights by the Pac-12 in 2022 when they decided to join the Big Ten.
The departing schools dispute what constitutes formal notification of departure from the conference.
An attorney for the Pac-12, Mark Lambert, said there is still conference business to attend to for the remainder of this season, including the retention of nearly 200 employees.
Libey did allow for the conference to continue to conduct day-to-day business as usual, and granted Lambert’s request to permit the league office to take actions that are agreed upon by unanimous vote of the 10 members that currently make up the board.
Lambert said Kliavkoff and the conference office are caught in the middle of a conflict between Oregon State and Washington State and the eight schools that have most recently announced they are leaving.
“Each are highly suspicious of the other,” Lambert said.
There were no attorneys for any of the departing schools present for the hearing in a courtroom not far from Washington State’s Pullman campus.