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Canzano: Popping popcorn for Pac-12 discovery
Fans deserve transparency.
On Monday, attorneys for the University of Washington entered a motion to intervene in the lawsuit filed by Oregon State and Washington State. The Huskies are seeking a dismissal.
Nine of the other soon-to-be-departed Pac-12 members also filed a brief in Whitman County Superior Court, arguing that they think the OSU/WSU lawsuit should be tossed.
Anyone else ready for some old-fashioned discovery?
The Beavers and Cougars want clarity on the governance of the Pac-12 conference and control of the remaining assets. But what Pac-12 fans deserve most of all is transparency. I’m popping the popcorn and waiting to see if they’ll get it.
Who were the 10 departing schools talking with in the last 14 months?
When were they talking?
What was said?
I spoke with a number of involved sources at the left-behind schools who told me that Monday’s court activity was not unexpected. UW’s motion is largely centered around procedural matters, jurisdiction and sovereign immunity vs. the merits of the case.
Oregon State and Washington State issued a joint statement:
“The departing schools continue to undermine our efforts to secure the future of the Pac-12 Conference. They are relying on flimsy arguments to try to escape accountability for their actions. It won’t work. Their decisions directly damaged the Pac-12 and are causing real harm to the Conference, OSU, WSU, student-athletes, and the people of Oregon and Washington. We did not create or seek these circumstances, but OSU and WSU will continue to take whatever actions are necessary to protect our universities, ensure accountability and transparency, safeguard the Pac-12 Conference, and preserve our options moving forward. The future of the Pac-12 should be decided by the schools who stay, not those who go.”
The 10 departing schools came up with a joint statement as well:
“As we share another memorable fall season of Pac-12 athletics, we recognize the complex challenges of the current situation. Our court filings show how our schools are in full compliance with the Pac-12 Bylaws, which prohibit a member from leaving the conference before August 2024 but allow schools to announce a withdrawal that will happen after that date. We are looking forward to engaging in further candid and constructive conversations that will allow us to reach a fair resolution and position our communities for future success.”
An involved party at Oregon State called the UW court filing a “stall tactic” and added: “This whole thing is uniquely bizarre. These 10 schools have told the world they’re leaving the conference. They’re going to competing conferences. They can no longer act in the interest of the Pac-12.”
I’d like to know what the 10 schools were saying to each other, their consulting firms, and potential television partners in the last year. You? I’m sure Oregon State and Washington State are interested as well.
Said one source: “There’s a huge lack of transparency from the departing schools.”
There is a preliminary injunction hearing scheduled for Nov. 14. OSU and WSU appear focused on seeing that process play out. The attorneys for UW have asked for an Oct. 25 hearing to determine if the case should be dismissed.
The sides have been engaged in mediation. They’ve also agreed to a timeline for discovery. The bulk of the departing schools have been publicly quiet on the matter before now.
It’s why that brief filing, in particular, is interesting. Until Monday, the departing schools not located in the state of Washington have acted like they’re not really part of the case.
A source familiar with the lawsuit told me: “If you think you have an interest in this case, feel free to get involved, file your motions, and make your arguments. But just like every other party to the case, that means that you’re going to be involved in discovery.”
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