What were Oregon State and WSU Supposed to Do?

Mike Whitty Editorials

Admittedly, I am weary of reading posters to the Our Beloved Ducks message board chastise OSU and WSU over funds in the PAC-12 accounts, and that will come into those accounts that they have received through Court Order. It was not hard to pull Mr. FishDuck from his study of popular gambling states in the US since he has demonstrated strong feelings about this topic.

Maybe it’s the lawyer in me, and a firm belief that when a party makes an agreement, that party should be held to the language it signed to follow. When the PAC-12 members SIGNED the conference bylaws on July 24, 2011, they all agreed to Article 3 of the By-Laws which states as follows:

“3. Withdrawal.
No member shall deliver a notice of withdrawal to the Conference in the period beginning on July 24, 2011, and ending on August 1, 2024; provided, that if any member does deliver a notice of withdrawal prior to August 1, 2024, in violation of this chapter, the Conference shall be entitled to an injunction and other equitable relief to prevent such breach, and if a court of competent jurisdiction shall deny the Conference such injunctive relief, the Conference shall be entitled to retain all the media and sponsorship rights in the multi-player video distribution (MPVD) and telecommunications/wireless categories of the member purporting to withdraw through August 1, 2024, even if the member is then a member of another conference or an independent school for some or all intercollegiate sports competitions. Additionally, if a member delivers notice of withdrawal in violation of this chapter, the member’s representative to the CEO Group shall automatically cease to be a member of the CEO Group and shall cease to have the right to vote on any matter before the CEO Group. (Emphasis added).

George Kliavkoff failed us, following a line of incompetent Pac-12 commissioners. (Screenshot from Pac-12 Network Video)

It started with USC wanting a bigger share of TV revenue and the other conference schools refusing to give them that share. Then USC and UCLA announced they were leaving for the B1G Ten.

Without the Los Angeles market schools, PAC-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff attempted to get media rights agreements with networks. He got some proposals and the University Presidents would not accept any of them. Colorado gave notice that it was negotiating with the Big 12. Ten minutes before the schools were meeting to consider signing a rights proposal with Apple Streaming, Washington announced that it was leaving the conference for the B1G. Oregon quickly followed UW, as Colorado, Utah, Arizona and ASU went with the Big 12.

Cal and Stanford reluctantly hitched their wagons to the ACC, their only choice..

That left OSU and WSU with the above By-Law giving them the right to seek an injunction, which they did in an Eastern Washington Court. It really didn’t make any difference what court they went to because the language is clear. When a school announces it is leaving the conference, its voting rights vanish with the announcement. The two schools sought the injunction the By-Law provides for and, obviously, it was granted. Any court would have done the same. The language is clear.

Jordan James and the Ducks move to the B1G, and leave the Beavers behind. (Photo by Craig Strobeck)

Oregon did not have to leave for the B1G Ten. We could have hung in there with OSU and WSU and shared in the millions those schools are getting. But, the powers that run OBD made a different choice, and it was the right choice. It was right for the future of Oregon football and for the revenue that sport provides to finance all the other sports. Whether it is the right choice for those other sports remains to be seen. In the relatively short run, more money will inure to the DAF coffers because of that choice to join the B1G than is “lost” by not staying in the PAC.

I certainly do not blame OSU for taking all the money that they are entitled to receive under the By-Law. If OBD had decided to stay in the PAC, most certainly we would have taken our one-third. But we made the choice to go and to leave the remaining schools holding the bag. As it happens, it’s a bag stuffed with money that they are badly going to need.

Article 3 of the By-Laws created a substantial penalty for cutting and running from the other conference schools. I have a vision of the OBD representatives who decided to sign-on to the penalty, conferring among themselves about whether this would be a good idea. I can even hear them, these nearly 13 years later: “It will never apply to us. We’ll get the money if USC, UCLA and Washington pull out.”

Mike Whitty
Eugene, Oregon
Top Screenshot from WSUCougarAthletics Video

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