Arrow-right Camera
Subscribe now
WSU Men's Basketball

Pac-12 survival: Tallying the cash available to Washington State and Oregon State for rebuilding the conference

By Jon Wilner Bay Area News Group

The process required eight months, a lawsuit, a negotiated settlement, clarity from the College Football Playoff, readings and rereadings of the Rose Bowl contract, an entire basketball season and multiple rounds of the NCAA Tournament. But finally, we have clarity on the cash.

It’s time to calculate the pot o’ gold waiting for Washington State and Oregon State.

Once the other 10 schools depart the Pac-12 this summer, the Cougars and Beavers will have sole access to the conference’s assets and revenue. They have time to plot a course of action, but not an unlimited amount.

NCAA rules provide a two-year grace period for conferences gutted by realignment. Once the summer of 2026 arrives, the Pac-12 must have at least eight schools. Otherwise, WSU and OSU must join another conference.

Based on four key revenue streams, the Cougars and Beavers seemingly have enough cash to create strategic flexibility, maintain athletic operations at a reasonable level and attempt to lure other schools into a rebuilt conference.

How much cash?

With the Pac-12 eliminated from the men’s NCAA Tournament, we can tally the revenue and assets available during the 2025 and 2026 fiscal years – the crucial 24-month period in which WSU and OSU will be alone in open water. The revenue due to the conference prior to that period (i.e., this spring) must be shared with the outbound schools, which officially depart at the close of business on Aug. 1, according to the negotiated settlement. The four primary revenue buckets for the Cougars and Beavers are:

• Conference distributions withheld from the outgoing schools.

• College Football Playoff payments.

• The Rose Bowl contract.

• NCAA Tournament unit distributions.

Let’s take them one at a time.


distributions withheld

Earlier this week, WSU and OSU finalized the negotiated settlement with the 10 outbound universities. Section 2 addresses conference revenue generated in the 2023-24 competition year.

Each of the departing schools will have $5 million withheld in the following timetable:

“The $5,000,000 per Departing Member amount will be withheld on the following schedule: one million dollars ($1,000,000) from each Departing Member’s first Fiscal Year 2024 Distribution; two million dollars ($2,000,000) from each Departing Member’s April Fiscal Year 2024 Distribution; and two million dollars ($2,000,000) from each Departing Member’s June Fiscal Year 2024 Distribution.”

Additionally, each outbound school is responsible for a $1.5 million “supplement contribution” to the conference.

The amount can be withheld from the 2024 distributions this spring or repaid to the conference by Dec. 31.

If that deadline isn’t met, then (per the settlement): “The Conference shall be entitled to a binding and enforceable order from the Special Master.”

The math: $6.5 million withheld from 10 schools is $65 million for WSU and OSU.

College Football Playoff payments

Because of the NCAA’s grace period, the Cougars and Beavers are eligible for their full share of the College Football Playoff revenue per the terms of the contract signed a decade ago, when the four-team event was created.

That 12-year contract runs through the 2024 and 2025 seasons.

While WSU and OSU will be treated as at-large teams with regard to their access to the playoff, they remain full-share Power Five members – just like the 10 outbound schools.

A full share is roughly $6 million per year.

The math: $6 million for each school for two years is $24 million.

Rose Bowl revenue

In addition to football playoff payments, the Cougars and Beavers have sole access to the terms of the Rose Bowl’s agreement with the Pac-12, its longtime partner. That deal remains in place for the next two seasons, to coincide with the playoff’s contract cycle.

And it’s a whopper: The Pac-12 receives approximately $50 million annually as part of the agreement with the Granddaddy.

The math: $50 million for two years is $100 million.

NCAA Tournament revenue

This is the most complicated piece of the cash calculation, with the amount of revenue based on tournament success over a rolling time frame.

In simplest terms, the process works as follows:

Each game played is worth one unit. Each unit carries a six-figure dollar value paid to the team’s conference over six years, beginning the following spring.

So the money due to the Pac-12 this spring from the NCAA Tournament is based on the units accumulated by all the member schools from 2018-23. And it will be shared by all the schools, since the payment period falls within the 2024 fiscal year.

But the cash headed to the Pac-12 in the spring of 2025, based on units accumulated in the 2019-24 tournaments, is available only to WSU and OSU.

The outbound members won’t take their units with them to their new leagues.

How much? The Pac-12 accumulated the following units:

2019: 7

2020: 0 (no tournament played/no units allocated)

2021: 19

2022: 7

2023: 7

2024: 10

That’s 50 units to be paid next spring, when each unit will carry a value of $350,000 (approximately).

In the spring of 2026, the Pac-12 will be paid for 43 units at $360,000 per unit (approximately).

(WSU and OSU will compete as affiliate members of the West Coast Conference for the next two seasons. The revenue from any NCAA units earned would go solely to the permanent WCC schools, according to the contract.)

The math: 50 units at $350,000 each in the spring of 2025 is $17.5 million, and 43 units at $360,000 each in the spring of 2026 is $15.5 million – for a two-year total of $33 million.

If the Pac-12 exists beyond the summer of 2026, the conference would continue to collect the NCAA units earned to this point through the end of the six-year payout cycle.

But that amount – approximately $30 million – would be distributed from the spring of 2027 through the spring of 2030.

In other words, it would not be available to WSU and OSU during the two-year NCAA grace period, as they stay afloat and work to rebuild the conference.

That said, the ‘Pac-2’ schools have a substantial amount of cash available from their four primary revenue streams:

• Conference withholdings: $65 million.

• College Football Playoff payouts: approximately $24 million.

• Rose Bowl: approximately $100 million.

• NCAA units: approximately $33 million.

The grand total during the critical 24-month window: roughly $222 million.

It guarantees them nothing, except a fighting chance.