Oregon State, Washington State file complaint and emergency restraining order against Pac-12 Conference

The two schools remaining in the Pac-12 are attempting to protect themselves from any potentially harmful decisions that could be made by those who are set to leave the conference.

Photo of the Pac-12 logo.

Oregon State University and Washington State University filed a complaint and an emergency temporary restraining order against the Pac-12 Conference and its commissioner George Kliavkoff in Whitman County Superior Court Friday, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The restraining order aims to cancel a board meeting scheduled for September 13. In the filing, the two schools explained the necessity of such an order to preserve the conference as it is.

“Defendants’ actions have left Plaintiffs with no choice but to bring this emergency temporary restraining order to preserve the status quo until a hearing can be had on a preliminary injunction,” the filing said.

The complaint was filed after Washington State president Kirk Schulz, also the chair of the Pac-12 board of directors, declined commissioner Kliavkoff’s request to hold a board meeting to talk about issues facing the conference.

Kliavkoff then scheduled the meeting himself and invited all 12 conference members, including USC and UCLA — who had previously been excluded from these meetings after announcing their move to major collegiate athletic conference the Big Ten in June 2022.

This legal action is the latest development in the disintegration of the Pac-12 which began when USC and UCLA announced that they would be withdrawing from the conference. The two schools will begin playing in their new conference during the 2024-2025 season.

In the last couple months, more Pac-12 universities have said that they will also be departing the conference. In July, the University of Colorado, Boulder, revealed that it would be returning to the Big 12 Conference after an almost 12-year hiatus. The board of regents had voted unanimously to make the switch in 2024.

On August 4, the Pac-12 lost five schools in the span of a few hours. The University of Washington and the University of Oregon both announced that they would be following USC and UCLA to the Big Ten. The University of Arizona, Arizona State University and the University of Utah announced that they would be joining the Big 12. All five schools will officially join their new conferences at the same time as USC, starting conference play during the 2024-2025 season.

One month after the Pac-12 lost five, they lost two more. Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, announced on September 1 that they would be joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2024.

Now, the Pac-12′s two remaining schools are looking to protect themselves and the conference.

The complaint alleges that, according to the Pac-12′s bylaws, after giving notice of withdrawal, the presidents at the ten departing schools should no longer be allowed to serve on the conference’s board of directors. With this, the presidents at Washington State and Oregon State would be the board’s sole members.

One particular concern of WSU and OSU is the Pac-12′s assets, which they argue could be distributed amongst departing members if the meeting is allowed to be held. According to the filing, the Pac-12 had $42.7 million in total net assets at the end of the 2022 fiscal year, which excludes the conference’s equity value of their Pac-12 Network ownership. The network reported $117 million in revenue for the fiscal year ending in 2022.

A hearing for the temporary restraining order will be held on Monday, according to ESPN.