Pac-12 Schools Collaborating with Mountain West to Stay Open, Sources Say

Two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Thursday that Oregon State and Washington State are working on a deal with the Mountain West that could extend the existence of the Pac-12 as a two-team conference for up to two years. If an agreement cannot be reached with the Mountain West, the two schools are prepared to operate as a two-team Pac-12 after the other 10 schools depart next summer. However, this would pose challenges for filling out schedules for the many sports each school sponsors.

Oregon State is currently ranked 10th in the country in The Associated Press Top 25 college football poll, and the schools won a significant legal victory earlier this week, paving the way for them to clarify their future plans for conference affiliation.

While the state Supreme Court has granted a temporary stay of a preliminary injunction, Oregon State and Washington State have until Nov. 28 to respond. In the meantime, a temporary restraining order remains in place, meaning no business can be conducted in the Pac-12 without unanimous consent by all 12 members.

Despite the stay, the two schools are expected to continue their efforts to keep the Pac-12 open and partner with the Mountain West. The Mountain West is comprised of Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, UNLV, Utah State, San Diego State, San Jose State, and Wyoming.

The Pac-12 has been affected by multiple conference realignment moves, leaving Oregon State and Washington State to face a difficult future with reduced revenue streams. The schools’ leaders believe the best path forward is to try to rebuild the Pac-12, leveraging the remaining multimillion-dollar payouts from the Rose Bowl and the College Football Playoff over the next two years.

Their plan includes playing schedules mostly against Mountain West schools for the next two years, with neither school being eligible for the conference championship. In football, this would mean at least six games each against Mountain West schools for Oregon State and Washington State.