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Weil Secures Emergency TRO in Pac-12 Conference Governance Dispute

On Monday, September 11, Weil secured a temporary restraining order for Washington State University and co-plaintiff Oregon State University against the Pac-12 Conference and its Commissioner, George Kliavkoff, blocking the Pac-12 Conference from holding an unauthorized meeting of the Conference’s Board of Directors. Over the last year, 10 of the 12 members of the Pac-12 Conference have publicly announced they are leaving the Pac-12 Conference to join competing athletic conferences such as the Big Ten, Big 12, and the Atlantic Coast Conference. Washington State University and Oregon State University are the only members of the Pac-12 Conference that have not announced their departure.

The bylaws of the Pac-12 Conference state that if a member provides notice of withdrawal from the Conference, that member’s Board representative “shall automatically cease to be a member of the Pac-12 Board of Directors and shall cease to have the right to vote on any matter before the Pac-12 Conference.” Notwithstanding this provision, the Pac-12 Conference had sought to invite all 12 schools to send Board members to attend an upcoming Board meeting and cast votes on existential issues concerning the future of the Pac-12. Weil argued on behalf of WSU that holding this meeting and any votes including the Board representatives for the 10 departing members would violate the bylaws and cause irreparable harm to WSU and the future of the Pac-12 Conference. In ruling for WSU and OSU, Washington Superior Court Judge Gary Libey held that the plaintiffs had established that the 10 departing schools had delivered notice of withdrawal from the Conference, and that, absent the temporary restraining order, WSU and OSU would “suffer actual, substantial, and immediate irreparable harm.”

The Weil team representing Washington State University is comprised of Co-Head of Weil’s Complex Commercial Litigation practice Drew Tulumello and partner Arianna Scavetti, and associates Zach Schreiber and Katie Clemmons. Oregon State University is represented by Eric MacMichael, Nicholas Goldberg and David Silbert of Keker, Van Nest, and Peters.