Oregon State, Washington State and the Mountain West announced a football scheduling agreement Friday for the 2024 season that gives the two remaining Pac-12 schools six opponents each and positions them to operate as a two-team conference for at least a year.
All 12 Mountain West schools will be involved and Oregon State and Washington State will each play three home games and three road games against members of a conference that includes: Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State, Wyoming, Nevada, UNLV, San Jose State, Utah State, Fresno State and New Mexico.
Oregon State and Washington State will pay about $14 million to the Mountain West next year as part of the agreement, Washington State athletic director Pat Chun confirmed.
“We are still focused on re-building the Pac-12, and continue to prioritize the student-athlete experience at Oregon State,” Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes said.
Barnes said a full football schedule will be released soon and will include five Power Five opponents, six from the Mountain West and one FCS school. For its part, the Mountain West will play a seven-game conference schedule and the games against Oregon State and Washington State will not count in the league standings.
Washington State athletic director Pat Chun said the Cougars have 11 of their 12 games filled now on their schedule and hope to have the final game solidified in the coming weeks.
"This is a unique and unprecedented opportunity for Oregon State and Washington State to play against highly competitive Mountain West football programs in 2024,” Mountain West Commissioner Gloria Nevarez. She said the agreement expands the conference's footprint and strengthens its nonconference schedules.
Oregon State and Washington State are trying to plot a path forward after the Pac-12 was torn apart by conference realignment. Ten Pac-12 schools are joining new Power Five leagues in 2024.
There has been speculation about a combination of some kind between the two remaining schools and the Mountain West, including scheduling agreements in other sports, as the sides explore options.
Oregon State and Washington State, however, want to rebuild the Pac-12 and NCAA rules allow for a conference to be as small as two schools for a two-year period. Chun said the Cougars will continue to use the Pac-12 marks and logo on its field and uniforms next season. He also reiterated that this is only a one-year agreement with the Mountain West to provide non-conference games.
“It’s definitely a partnership that allows the two schools to get to know Commissioner Nevarez and the Mountain West Conference a little bit better,” Chun said. “But the reality is the amount of instability in the FBS and in all conferences is a real issue for college athletics and we’re going to make sure that we position ourselves in the most strategic manner going forward.”
The Pacific Northwest schools are currently in a legal battle with the Pac-12 and the 10 departing schools to determine who runs the conference and has control over potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in assets.
It is unclear how the additional games could impact the Mountain West's television agreement with Fox and CBS, which runs through the 2025 football season. The Pac-12 has no television contract in place beyond this season. The league's failure to land a deal competitive with other Power Five conferences was a primary factor in the breakup of the Pac-12.
The departures started in 2022 when Southern California and UCLA announced they would join the Big Ten in 2024. The pace picked up this fall.
Oregon State and Washington State sued the Pac-12 and departing members in September, claiming those schools relinquished a right to be on the conference board of directors and vote on league matters when the announced they were leaving.
The exiting schools say they should still be able to vote until they officially leave in August 2024. Currently, any decisions made in the Pac-12 have to be by unanimous consent of all 12 members.
A judge ruled last month in favor of Oregon State and Washington State, but the conference and departing schools have appealed to the Washington Supreme Court and t he lower's court ruling has been put on hold.
The departing schools hailed the football announcement.
“The unanimous support for this agreement from all 12 current Pac-12 members demonstrates that OSU and WSU can successfully plan for their future while all members continue to have a say in Pac-12 decisions impacting the current athletics year,” the schools said in a statement. “The nine-figure annual revenues the Pac-12 was already contracted to receive in the 2024-2025 and 2025-2026 athletics years will support this agreement and any other future plans for the conference.”
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