Oregon State, Washington State leaders discuss state of Pac-12, realignment options

Leaders 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 legal proceedings to come. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Of the 10 current members of the Pac-12 conference, eight are departing 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 mutual interest from both sides on “some sort of partnership.”
  • The two schools are still trying to gain clarity on the fiscal condition of the Pac-12 as it stands. “Our two schools continue to seek financial records from the conference and are painstakingly reviewing documents to get an accurate picture of the conference’s fiscal position,” Washington State president Dr. Kirk Schulz said.
  • No. 14 Oregon State travels to Pullman, Wash., to play No. 21 Washington State at 7 p.m. ET on Fox on Saturday in a battle of unbeaten football teams.


Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said the two schools are planning for multiple potential scenarios and remaining flexible as they inch closer to the 2024-25 academic year without schedules in place or conference affiliation secured. The two athletic directors briefly touched on the minimum requirements to exist as a conference next year, mentioning how many members are required for each sport in order to maintain automatic qualification for NCAA championships.

“But the reality is there is a grace period of two years as we think about our path forward and the multiple options that we have,” Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes said.

Barnes said no agreements have been signed as it is too early in the process to know what form the relationship between the two schools and the current Mountain West schools would look like. Murthy said the two schools have been 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 fallout from a legal dispute with the Holiday Bowl.

Part of the reason the two schools took legal action against the Pac-12 conference and commissioner George Kliavkoff earlier this month was to gain clarity regarding the financial condition of the league.

“We’ve got to have that full picture,” Schulz said. “I don’t think it is going to take us months to get the full picture (of assets and liabilities, and potential partnerships). I am optimistic that in the next 30 days or so we’re going to have a pretty decent idea of a lot of this and that will help our decision-making.”

Asked about a promotion/relegation proposal for western FBS football teams that originated with Boise State associate athletic director Michael Walsh, administrators declined to discuss it specifically. Barnes said he believes there will likely be more examples of unequal revenue distribution models within conferences, leagues contracting and/or a pure relegation model in the future of college sports.

That “will take place, I think,” Barnes said. “I think that’s coming. … We see it working in a similar fashion (with the Premier League) in Europe, and, certainly, it’s worthy of our study.”

Chun said he had not studied the Boise State model but wouldn’t believe Oregon State or Washington State would be at risk of relegation in a relegation model because both are top-25 football programs right now. He and his colleagues pointed to Saturday’s game as an example of why these athletes and athletic departments deserve to be competing at the highest level.

“The future is not what the past was, but there is a good future for us,” Murthy said.

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(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)

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