Oregon State and Washington State leaders held a conference call with reporters Thursday to discuss the status of the Pac-12 Conference, reorganization options and upcoming legal action. Here’s what you need to know:
- Of the 10 current members of the Pac-12 Conference, eight will leave to join other leagues next summer. Oregon State and Washington State are the two remaining members of the Pac-12 and have expressed interest in trying to rebuild the conference.
- Oregon State President Dr. Jayathi Murthy said the two schools have had “very constructive conversations” with Mountain West Commissioner Gloria Nevarez, and there is a shared interest on both sides about “some kind of partnership.”
- The two schools are still trying to get clarity on the Pac-12’s financial situation as it currently stands. “Our schools continue to seek financial records from the conference and are carefully reviewing the documents to get an accurate picture of the conference’s financial position,” Washington State President Dr. Kirk Schulz said.
- No. 14 Oregon State travels to Pullman, WA to play No. 21 Washington State at 7 pm ET on Fox on Saturday in a battle of undefeated football teams.
Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said the two schools are planning for multiple potential scenarios and remaining flexible as they approach the 2024-25 school year without timelines or conference affiliation secured. The two athletic directors briefly touched on the minimum requirements to be in a conference next year, noting the number of members required for each sport in order to maintain automatic qualification for the NCAA Championships.
“But the reality is there is a two-year grace period as we think about our path forward and the multiple options available to us,” Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes said.
Barnes said no agreements have been signed because it is too early to know what the relationship between the two schools and existing Mountain West schools will look like. Murthy said the two schools are trying to get a better understanding of the Pac-12’s current assets and liabilities — assets that include media rights payments, NCAA tournament units and College Football Playoff revenue. Liabilities include debt owed to Comcast and the fallout from a legal dispute with Holiday Bowl.
Part of the reason the two schools took legal action against the Pac-12 Conference and Commissioner George Kliavkov earlier this month was to clarify the league’s financial situation.
“We have to have that complete picture,” Schultz said. “I don’t think it will take us months to get the full picture (of assets, liabilities, and potential partnerships). I’m optimistic that over the next 30 days or so we’ll have a pretty good idea of a lot of this and it will help us with decision making.”
Asked about A Western Football FBS Promotion/Relegation Proposal teams that originated with Boise State associate athletic director Michael Walsh, officials declined to discuss the matter specifically. Barnes said he believes there will likely be more examples of unequal revenue distribution models within conferences, contracting with leagues and/or a pure relegation model in the future of college sports.
“I think it will happen,” Barnes said. “I think this is coming. … We see it working in a similar way (with the Premier League) in Europe and, certainly, it is worth our study.
Chun said he has not studied Boise State’s model but does not think Oregon State or Washington State would be at risk of landing in the relegation model because both are top 25 football programs right now. He and his teammates 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 not what it was in the past, but there is a good future for us,” Murthy said.
(Photo: Kirby Lee/USA Today)
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