November 20, 2023
On November 14, 2023, Weil won a second consecutive major victory for Washington State University and co-plaintiff Oregon State University in significant governance litigation brought against the Pac-12 Conference and its Commissioner, George Kliavkoff. Ruling from the bench after oral argument, Washington state Superior Court Judge Gary Libey denied motions to dismiss from the Pac-12 Conference and intervening defendant the University of Washington, and granted plaintiffs’ motion to preliminarily enjoin 10 departing member universities of the Conference from continuing to serve on the Conference’s board.
The ruling follows on the heels of the Court’s September 2023 order granting plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order that halted a scheduled meeting of the Conference’s board that would have included the departing members, and it gives WSU and OSU sole control of governance of the Conference moving forward – a complete victory for plaintiffs.
The University of Washington sought an emergency stay of the Court’s ruling pending an appeal. Weil is representing Washington State to oppose the University of Washington’s appellate efforts.
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. Washington State and Oregon State have sought judicial intervention to enforce the Conference Bylaws, which provide that members who have delivered a notice of withdrawal from the Conference are automatically removed from the Board of Directors and cease to have a vote on governance matters. The case will be critical to Washington State and Oregon State’s ability to plan a future for the Pac-12 Conference.
Complex Commercial Litigation partner Arianna Scavetti argued on behalf of the plaintiffs in opposition to the defendants’ motions to dismiss. The Weil team representing Washington State University also includes Co-Head of Weil’s Complex Commercial Litigation practice Drew Tulumello and associates Zach Schreiber, Katie Clemmons and Veronica Craig. Appeals and Strategic Counseling Co-Head Greg Silbert and associate Jacob Altik have recently joined the team for the appeal. Oregon State University is represented by Eric MacMichael, Nicholas Goldberg and David Silbert of Keker, Van Nest & Peters.