A judge on Monday granted a request by Oregon State and Washington State for a temporary restraining order to prevent departing Pac-12 members from meeting until it can be determined who has the right to chart the future of the disintegrating conference.
At a hearing in Whitman County Superior Court in Washington, Judge Gary Libey ruled that a board of directors meeting scheduled for later this week with conference commissioner George Kliavkoff and university leaders from 10 departing members cannot take place, according to a report by CBS News Bay Area.
Washington State president Kirk Schulz, who now serves as the chairman of the Pac-12's board, and athletic director Pat Chun attended the hearing at a courthouse not far from the school's Pullman campus. The judge did not immediately set another court date.
Oregon State and Washington State want full control over decision-making for the conference as the only schools committed to the league beyond the current school year. The schools filed the breach of bylaws complaint Friday.
"I am pleased with today's decision. As the two remaining Pac- 12 members, Oregon State and Washington State must be able to chart a path forward for the Pac 12 — not the members that have chosen to leave it," Oregon State president Jayathi Murthy said in a statement, as reported by CBS.
Leaders of the two Pacific Northwest schools have stated they would like to rebuild the Pac-12, taking control of its assets and intellectual property while preserving its brand. According to the CBS report, those leaders say they fear the outgoing schools will try to dissolve the conference and divvy up its assets on the way out the door if they are permitted to convene a board meeting.
"Members who have announced that they are leaving to join a competitor no longer have any loyalty to the Pac-12, cannot be entrusted to make decisions on behalf of the Pac-12," said Eric MacMichael, an attorney for Oregon State.
MacMichael said on the agenda for the scheduled meeting was a discussion of amending the conference bylaws. He also accused departing members of plotting to use Pac-12 assets to fund their transitions to other conferences, CBS reported, an accusation disputed by Mark Lambert, the Pac-12's attorney. Lambert said the meeting was called by Kliavkoff to address the operation of the conference for the rest of the school year.
"There are certainly the types of amendments that could be very harmful to their interests, but none of those are on the table and there's no evidence that a motion for dissolution or a motion to hoard conference funds is even in discussion," Lambert said.
MacMichael said under the Pac-12 bylaws, Oregon State and Washington State should have the opportunity to keep the conference alive without any interference from outgoing members.
Oregon State and Washington State contend that eight schools — Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Stanford and California — forfeited their right to be on the board when they announced their intentions to join other conferences next year, CBS reported, adding USC and UCLA were stripped of voting rights by the Pac-12 in 2022 when they decided to join the Big Ten.
The official departure date for schools leaving the Pac-12 is July 31, 2024.