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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Pac-12 legal affairs: Washington Supreme Court grants WSU, OSU request for speedy timeline as critical dates approach

By Jon Wilner Bay Area News Group

The Pac-12’s two remaining schools won a small but significant victory Friday when the Washington Supreme Court granted their request to expedite the review of a case that will determine control of the conference.

After all, Washington State and Oregon State are facing a fast-approaching deadline for resolution of their lawsuit against the conference and the 10 departing schools: the opening of the transfer portal on Dec. 4.

With their futures in doubt and their players coveted by other schools, the Cougars and Beavers asked the Supreme Court to move quickly in setting the briefing schedule for its review of Washington’s emergency motion to stay a lower court’s ruling that gave WSU and OSU control of the conference’ governing board.

On Friday, the court’s deputy clerk granted the request, writing: “A ruling on the emergency motion to stay will be issued by December 4, 2023.”

That timeline should give WSU and OSU some clarity on their futures prior to the start of college football’s version of free agency. Both schools are in danger of losing top-tier players to other schools, including the outbound members of the Pac-12.

In their request for an expedited process, attorneys for the plaintiffs wrote:

“Governance of the Conference cannot remain in limbo. Under the current briefing schedule and in the absence of the preliminary injunction that the superior court entered on November 14, 2023, WSU and OSU are left without any ability to chart a path forward for the Conference during a critical period.

“Important events for the Conference’s future are on the horizon, including the opening of the college volleyball and football transfer portals on December 3 and December 4, 2023, and critical meetings about the future of the College Football Playoff …

“Respondents also request that the Court issue a decision on the Emergency Motion by December 4, 2023, to avoid the harms discussed above.”

The development ends a busy week.

— On Tuesday, a Whitman County (Wash.) Superior Court judge signed a preliminary injunction that gave control of the Pac-12 governing board to WSU and OSU.

— On Wednesday, Washington, the defendant — acting on behalf of the other nine departing schools — filed an emergency motion with the state’s Supreme Court in Olympia to stay the preliminary injunction.

— On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a temporary stay that gave both parties a chance to submit their legal briefs before a ruling on the motion for an emergency stay.

— On Friday, WSU and OSU filed both their opposition to the motion for an emergency stay and a motion to expedite the Supreme Court’s review of the emergency motion.

That’s a lot of motions and a lot of stays, so let’s offer a summary:

WSU and OSU cannot assume control of the board just yet; and the Washington Supreme Court has not decided whether it will grant UW’s motion to stay the preliminary injunction; however, that decision will be made by Dec. 4, as the Cougars and Beavers hoped.

In other words, you’d rather be the plaintiffs than the defendant at this point — just as a football team would rather have the call on the field in its favor before the replay booth takes a look — but the legal process is not over.

Especially when the case is no longer in the hands of a judge 15 miles from Pullman but, rather, a court 60 miles from Seattle.