Judge Gary Libey of the Whitman County Superior Court in Colfax, Washington, has ruled in favor of Washington State and Oregon State, ending a two-month-long legal battle between the two schools and the eight others that departed the Pac-12 in 2024, including ASU.
The ruling grants the two schools a preliminary injunction, establishing Washington State President Kirk Schulz and Murthy as the sole members of the Pac-12 board of directors. ASU and the other departing schools will have discussion and comment ability but no voting power within the conference.
"We are pleased with the Court's decision today that Oregon State and Washington State constitute the only remaining members of the Pac-12 Conference Board," Oregon State President Jayathi Murthy said. "We look forward to charting a path forward for the Pac-12 that is in the best interest of the Conference and student-athletes."
“I grew up where conduct spoke louder than words,” Libey said before declaring his decision.
The University of Washington is expected to appeal the ruling.
The legal complaint levied by Oregon State and Washington State came in response to a chaotic summer of conference realignment, culminating in eight of the Pac-12’s ten remaining schools, including ASU, departing for other conferences. ASU, Arizona and Utah announced their move to the Big 12 on Aug. 4.
The moves left the Pac-12 with two remaining members, Washington State and Oregon State. The Pac-12 bylaws state that if a conference member delivers a “notice of withdrawal” from the conference before Aug. 1, 2024, the school’s president is no longer a Pac-12 board of directors member. This statement was the basis of Washington State and Oregon State's legal argument.
As sole members of the conference’s board, the two schools have full voting power over the remaining assets of the conference, which some believe could be nearly $400 million. The two schools could use that money to fund additions to the Pac-12 in order to preserve the conference.
"Our intentions are to make reasonable business decisions going forward while continuing to seek collaboration and consultation with the departing Universities," Murthy said.
ASU declined to comment on the result of the lawsuit.
ASU president Michael Crow told The State Press last week that he “certainly” believes he is a Pac-12 board of directors member.
"We're still a member of the conference until we're not,” Crow said.
Edited by Walker Smith, Jasmine Kabiri and Shane Brennan