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NCAA president Charlie Baker: ‘Washington State has a bright future’

NCAA President Charlie Baker speaks during a news conference Friday in Pullman.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – Washington State may not have a football schedule for next year, but as the Cougars pair with Oregon State to take control of the Pac-12, they have the support of the NCAA.

That’s the word from NCAA President Charlie Baker, who accepted an invitation from WSU Athletic Director Pat Chun to visit Gesa Field before Washington State’s game against Colorado.

“We are going to be as helpful as we can be to both schools, and to the other conferences and schools they’re talking to, as they work to put together a structure going forward,” Baker said. “We talked a little bit about that today. We’ve talked about it before. It’s a very top-of-mind issue for us. We will do whatever we can to help these folks figure it out because they’re great institutions.”

Baker did not offer any insight on the timeline of Washington State’s football scheduling, which might feature games against Mountain West teams, according to a report from Yahoo Sports that surfaced on Thursday. According to that report, the Cougars and Beavers are in talks with the Mountain West teams to add as many as seven games against its teams for 2024 and 2025, the two years of their allotted grace period from the NCAA.

On Friday, Washington State and Oregon State filed a motion in the Supreme Court in Washington – which is in the process of reviewing the University of Washington and the departing 10 Pac-12 schools’ appeal to Tuesday’s ruling – asking it to expedite the schedule, which was granted.

The transfer portal opens on Dec. 4, nine days after WSU’s regular-season finale, a road test against No. 5 Washington in what could be the final Apple Cup game.

“I personally believe that Washington State has a bright future,” Baker said. “I’m not exactly sure what it will look like. But I’ll tell you something: I’ve met today with a number of student-athletes here who love this place. They don’t just like it, they’re not just here, because it was the choice that landed for them. They love this place.

“And I am quite sure that when you have that kind of a culture, and that kind of a place where the kids who are here not only want to be here, but feel blessed to be here – this is the kind of school that down the road will find a way to figure it out.”