The Washington Supreme Court denied requests Friday to review a lawsuit the two remaining Pac-12 schools filed against the conference and removed a stay that allowed the league to operate as usual pending further arguments in the case.

The decision gives Washington State and Oregon State control of the conference’s governing board.

Supreme Court Commissioner Michael Johnson granted a temporary stay last month that prevented the Pac-12 board of directors from taking any action without the unanimous consent of all board members while motions and briefs were filed with the court. That stay is now lifted.

The court discussed the issue in an en banc meeting, where the nine justices gather to consider and deliberate on cases and case questions. It is not open to the public or recorded. The decision says only that a majority of the court voted to deny the motions for review.

The next moves in the case will be up to the lower courts and the parties.

Court order allows ‘business as usual’ in Pac-12 conference for now

Washington State and Oregon State sued the Pac-12 and commissioner George Kliavkoff over control of the conference in September, setting up a court battle over more than $400 million in revenue generated in the 2023-24 school year. At issue is whether the 10 schools leaving the Pac-12 for other conferences should have a say in how the conference operates — or what happens to its assets.

In a ruling earlier this month, Whitman County (Washington) Superior Court Judge Gary Libey prohibited the conference and its board of directors from recognizing any schools other than Washington State and Oregon State. His preliminary injunction also banned the withdrawing schools from attending, participating or voting in any board meeting.

In issuing his ruling, Libey said he found that the plaintiffs are likely to prevail on their interpretation of the bylaws.

The University of Washington on behalf of the 10 departing schools appealed to the lower court’s ruling to the Supreme Court and filed an emergency motion for a stay in November.

Where the two remaining Pac-12 schools could be playing basketball next year

Washington State and Oregon State have argued that as soon as the departing schools announced they were joining other conferences — UCLA, USC, Oregon and Washington to the Big Ten; Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah to the Big 12; and Cal and Stanford to the ACC — they no longer had the right to make decisions about the future of the conference.

ESPN reported that during discovery for the lawsuit, it was revealed that after UCLA and USC announced they were leaving for the Big Ten, the Pac-12 wrote to them to say, in part, that it “would have been a direct conflict and contrary to the best interests of the Pac-12 membership as a whole, to allow (USC and UCLA) to participate in” board discussions, according to the court filing.

The two remaining schools argued, “The fact that eight additional schools have withdrawn since USC and UCLA does not erase this conflict or somehow change the meaning of the bylaws. Indeed, that ‘direct conflict’ now infects all 10 departing schools, who are committed to competitors and have no incentive to invest in the Pac-12’s future.”

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In an October motion seeking to intervene in the lawsuit, Washington argued that it should still have a say in conference decisions.

“True, UW is leaving the conference after the 2023-24 academic year. But, in the meantime, UW remains a member of the conference, and board participation and voting power affects the experience of UW’s athletics teams and student-athletes for the 2023-24 academic year as well as UW’s bargained-for contractual rights and financial interest,” according to the motion.