Washington State University and Oregon State University will remain the only two voting members on the Pac-12 Conference board, a judge ruled Tuesday.
The preliminary injunction granted by Judge Gary Libey in Whitman County Superior Court came after 2½ hours of oral arguments. Libey said that WSU and Oregon State are likely to succeed in the case.
The 10 other schools that have announced they will withdraw from the conference after next summer should be allowed to continue to participate in meetings by providing comments and suggestions, Libey said, but they will no longer be able to vote while WSU and Oregon State’s lawsuit against the conference moves forward.
“We felt really strongly about our case, and I thought our legal team did a great job,” WSU President Kirk Schulz said after the hearing. “We feel good moving ahead and want to continue to operate the conference in a responsible fashion.”
Attorneys for WSU and Oregon State argued that the schools leaving the conference should not have a vote on the board because it would be a conflict of interest.
Attorney Eric MacMichael said that since the 10 schools intend to leave, they do not have a long-term interest in the success of the conference. WSU and Oregon State feared that if all 10 schools were allowed to continue to vote, they might have divided up all of the conference’s assets and left nothing behind.
MacMichael argued that when schools announced their intent to leave, they forfeited their seats on the board.
Pac-12 attorney Mark Lambert said the conference is neutral in the dispute between the schools but is concerned that the injunction might “put the conference in chaos” because the two remaining schools have given no plan for what they will do.
Dan Levin, an attorney representing the University of Washington, one of the schools leaving, said the departing schools are worried this year’s revenues might not be distributed fairly, or at all. He said the departing schools only want to participate in decisions affecting this school year before they leave.
Levin also argued that announcing their intent to leave the conference did not mean they automatically relinquished control of their board seats.
Libey said he believes WSU and Oregon State will treat the other schools fairly. If not, he will hear about it, he said.
Libey granted a stay of the order until Monday.