Washington court puts pause on Pac-12 control

The Washington State Supreme Court issued a temporary stay of Tuesday’s preliminary injunction that was set to grant control of the Pac-12 board of directors to Oregon State and Washington State on Monday.

The court’s ruling came a day after the University of Washington, working on behalf of the ten schools set to depart the Pac-12 at the end of the academic year, filed an emergency motion to stay Tuesday’s ruling and extend a temporary restraining order that had been in place since September. That TRO prevents any board action without unanimous consent of the 12 current members.

Thursday’s procedural ruling was not exactly what Washington requested, but it does have a similar impact in the short term as OSU and WSU will not control the conference board beginning Monday. Instead, both parties have been asked to file briefs regarding Washington’s emergency stay request, with the court asking for those to be filed by Nov. 28 and a reply by Dec. 8.

It’s possible that filing schedule could be expedited.

This process is independent from the departing schools’ intent to appeal Tuesday’s ruling in state Supreme Court and is not an indication of how the court may view the merits of the case. It is unclear when that appeal will be filed or how quickly the court will rule on whether to take the case.

“The departing schools are only delaying the inevitable because the superior court clearly got it right: Under the bylaws, the Conference’s future must be decided by the schools that stay, not those that are leaving,” OSU and WSU spokespersons Rob Odom and Phil Weiler said in a joint statement.

Facing uncertainty about the future, OSU and WSU are working on plans to operate the Pac-12 as a two-team conference for possibly the next two seasons, keeping alive the possibility of rebuilding the conference in the future.

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