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WSU, UW agree to five-year extension of Apple Cup series

Washington State Cougars quarterback Cameron Ward, left, sprints to avoid Washington Huskies linebacker Cam Bright during the first half of the Apple Cup, the Washington state rivalry game, on Saturday at Gesa Field in Pullman.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – The Apple Cup is safe, at least for another five years.

Washington State and Washington made sure of that, agreeing to a five-year continuation of the rivalry series in an announcement Sunday.

Next season’s game will take place on Sept. 14, 2024, at Seattle’s Lumen Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. The following four games will alternate between sites: 2025 in Pullman, 2026 in Seattle, 2027 in Pullman, 2028 in Seattle.

Terms of the agreement are still being finalized, according to a release.

“The Apple Cup is one of the oldest and most renowned rivalries in all of collegiate athletics,” WSU president Kirk Schulz said via release. “For more than a century, fans across the state have been circling the Apple Cup date on their calendars. We are pleased that we will be able to continue this beloved tradition for future generations of Coug fans.”

With this renewal, Washington State now has five games on the schedule for 2024: Home against Portland State on Aug. 31, away against San Diego State on Sept. 7, at Lumen Field against Washington on Sept. 14, home against San Jose State on Sept. 21, then a game against Oregon State at a date yet to be determined.

This season’s Apple Cup, set for Saturday afternoon at Husky Stadium in Seattle, was feared to be the final installment. Washington is headed to the Big Ten after this year, and without a conference home, Washington State’s future remains hazy.

For the Apple Cup game at Lumen Field, thank Seahawks president Chuck Arnold, WSU athletics director Pat Chun said. Arnold helped broker that deal, which will give the programs a 50-50 gate split. That, Chun said, will produce more revenue for WSU than a home football game at Gesa Field would.

“And then on top of that, it’s to be able to have a home-and-home,” Chun told The Spokesman-Review. “Two more games in Pullman is significant, one for whatever TV package we potentially will have to market out there. Two, obviously, for home ticket sales as we repackage one of the great rivalries in college sports.”

Last week, a Whitman County judge ruled in favor of Washington State and Oregon State, granting the Pac-12’s last two schools control of the conference and its roughly $400 million in assets. Washington State Supreme Court later granted a temporary stay on the decision for at least one month while Washington and the other departing nine schools appeal the decision.

WSU and OSU are in talks with the Mountain West Conference on using a two-year scheduling alliance to add games with its teams, according to a Yahoo Sports report that surfaced on Thursday. In a deal that may lead to long-term partnership, the most likely agreement includes a “7+1” format, where Mountain West teams play seven conference games, then one against either Washington State or Oregon State.

“There are numerous reasons for Washington State’s motivation to continue to play,” said Chun, who added this deal came together on Saturday. “One of them being this is one of the storied rivalries, all in all college sports. And obviously, we’re half of that equation. We recognize the importance of keeping the rivalry continuing.”

“We are appreciative of the efforts that First & Goal Inc. President Chuck Arnold and our friends at First & Goal have made in securing Lumen Field for the 2024 Apple Cup,” Chun said via release. “Lumen Field is one of the premier venues in all of sports and for our student-athletes to compete there will be a lifelong memory. While there is certainly passion on both sides, there is a common desire to represent the great state of Washington in the annual showdown. We are appreciative for this collaboration with Troy Dannen and the University of Washington to ensure the game continues for years to come.”