Oregon State, Washington State file complaint against Pac-12 over voting rights
Oregon State and Washington State are taking the Pac-12 to court over voting rights on the league’s board of directors.
The two schools filed a complaint against the Pac-12 and commissioner George Kliavkoff on Friday in Whitman County (Washington) Superior Court that seeks a temporary restraining order and clarity on which Pac-12 schools have voting rights in the conference between now and the summer of 2024 when 10 of the 12 member universities leave.
Oregon State and Washington State claim, citing Pac-12 bylaws, that the departing universities have already given a notice of withdrawal to the Pac-12 and thus surrendered their membership on the Pac-12 Board of Directors. As such, Oregon State and Washington State argue they now constitute the entire membership of the Pac-12 board and are the sole universities with voting power.
“This is a critical step that allows the two universities to continue to explore all options for preserving the conference going forward,” school presidents Jayathi Murthy and Kirk Schulz said in a release.
The filing comes after Schulz, chair of the Pac-12 board, declined Kliavkoff’s request for a board meeting to discuss “complex issues facing the conference,” according to the complaint.
Kliavkoff then scheduled a board meeting for Sept. 13 that included all 12 universities to vote on a “go forward governance approach” for the conference, according to the filing. Oregon State and Washington State claim such a vote would be in violation of the Pac-12 constitution and by-laws.
The filing seeks a temporary restraining order to prevent the Sept. 13 meeting or similar meetings that could bring forth a vote to potentially dissolve the Pac-12 and evenly distribute its assets.
The two universities are also pursuing a declaratory judgment from the court confirming OSU and WSU as the sole remaining voting members of the Pac-12 Board of Directors, according to the filing.
The filing states that the Pac-12 ended the 2022 fiscal year with $42.7 million in total net assets, a figure that does not include the equity value of the conference’s ownership of the Pac-12 Networks. The Pac-12 is also expecting $50.2 million in men’s basketball NCAA Tournament units to be distributed over the next six years. Bowl contracts and College Football Playoff payouts also make for other revenue streams in the coming years.
“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,” Murthy said in a statement. “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 Beavers and Cougars have reportedly been courted by the Mountain West, but both universities have said they expect to work together to determine whether the Pac-12 can be rebuilt before looking elsewhere.