Executives from Oregon State and Washington State held a conference call with reporters Thursday to discuss the state of the Pac-12 Conference, realignment options and upcoming litigation. Here’s what you need to know:
- Of the 10 current members of the Pac-12 Conference, eight are leaving the league next summer to join other leagues. Oregon State and Washington State are the two remaining members of the Pac-12 and have expressed interest in rebuilding the conference.
- The President of the US State of Oregon, Dr. Jayathi Murthy said the two schools have had “very constructive discussions” with Mountain West Commissioner Gloria Nevarez and that there is mutual interest on both sides in “some kind of partnership.”
- The two schools are still trying to gain clarity on the Pac-12’s current financial position. “Both of our schools continue to search for conference financial records and are carefully reviewing the documents to obtain an accurate picture of the conference’s financial position,” said Dr. Kirk Schulz, President of Washington State.
- No. 14 Oregon State travels to Pullman, Washington to play No. 21 Washington State in a battle of undefeated football teams on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on Fox.
Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said the two schools are planning for several possible scenarios and remaining flexible as they approach the 2024-25 school year with no timelines in place or conference affiliation secured. The two athletic directors briefly touched on the minimum requirements for a conference to exist next year and mentioned how many members are needed for each sport to maintain automatic qualification for NCAA championships.
“But the reality is that there is a two-year grace period in which we consider our path forward and the multiple options we have,” Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes said.
Barnes said no agreements have been signed yet because it is too early in the process to know what the relationship between the two schools and the current Mountain West schools would be. Murthy said the two schools have sought to gain a better understanding of the Pac-12’s current assets and liabilities – assets that include media rights payments, NCAA Tournament entities and College Football Playoff revenue. Liabilities include debts to Comcast and the fallout from a lawsuit with the Holiday Bowl.
One reason the two schools launched legal action against the Pac-12 Conference and Commissioner George Kliavkoff earlier this month was to gain clarity about the league’s financial situation.
“We have to have a complete picture,” said Schulz. “I don’t think it will take us months to get a full picture (of assets and liabilities and potential partnerships). I’m optimistic that we’ll have a pretty good idea in the next 30 days and that will help us make decisions.”
When asked about a promotion/relegation proposal for Western FBS football teams initiated by Boise State assistant athletic director Michael Walsh, administrators declined to specifically discuss it. Barnes said he believes the future of college sports will likely see more examples of unequal revenue distribution models within conferences, league contracting and/or a pure relegation model.
That “will happen, I think,” Barnes said. “I think that’s coming. … We see it working in a similar way in Europe (with the Premier League) and it’s definitely worth investigating.”
Chun said he hasn’t studied the Boise State model, but doesn’t believe Oregon State or Washington State would be in danger of relegation in a relegation model, as both are currently ranked among the top 25 football programs. He and his colleagues pointed to Saturday’s game as an example of why these athletes and athletic departments deserve to compete at the highest level.
“The future is no longer what the past was, but there is a good future for us,” Murthy said.
(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)