Sep 21, 2023 - News

OSU and WSU weighing Pac-12 options

A screenshot of four people participating in a video conference. All have a background that is grey with the mascots of Oregon State University and Washington State University in white.

Holding a joint news conference were (clockwise from top left) WSU president Kirk Schulz, OSU president Jayathi Murthy, OSU athletic director Scott Barnes and WSU athletic director Patrick Chun. Screenshot: Emily Harris/Axios

The Pac-12's future may be much clearer in about a month, when Washington State University and Oregon State University — the only two schools left in the league as of next fall — say they expect to have a better understanding of where the league is financially.

Why it matters: WSU and OSU have sued for control of the league and need to decide either to rebuild it or join another league.

Meanwhile, they're under pressure to make their decisions soon, to leave enough time to plan game schedules for next year and let student athletes know what's coming.

Driving the news: The presidents and athletic directors of both universities held a joint news conference Thursday via Zoom to address questions about the Pac-12 turmoil.

  • They also touted the prowess of their teams — both are in the top 25 this year and face off on Saturday at WSU's Martin Stadium in Pullman, Washington.

Catch up quick: After all the other 10 schools peeled off for other leagues, WSU and OSU took legal action to stop the departing schools from having a say in the Pac-12's future.

  • Last week, a judge granted a temporary restraining order in their favor.

What they're saying: OSU president Jayathi Murthy told reporters Thursday the schools need to understand how the mix of assets, like media deals, and liabilities, such as compensation agreements and labor lawsuits, balance out "before we can chart out a path forward."

  • Even when asked whether WSU and OSU will continue to play longtime arch rivals the University of Washington and the University of Oregon, officials said they'll consider the financials.
  • "We cannot look at scheduling the future with an emotional lens. We need to look at it through a business lens," WSU president Kirk Schulz said.

The big picture: The Pac-12 appears to be considering three options: join with the Mountain West conference, create a hybrid league, or play with just two teams for a year or so.

  • Officials declined to offer updates on the status of talks with the Mountain West.

What's next: At the football game on Saturday, WSU's band is slated to play the fight song of their opponent.

  • "We're going to ask as a show of respect, applaud that fight song," WSU athletic director Patrick Chun said. "Because the two universities are in a fight together."

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