Just over two months after a Whitman County judge ordered a halt to any Pac-12 board meetings, another hearing Tuesday determined there can be only two members of the board moving forward: Washington State and Oregon State.
Judge Gary Libey granted a preliminary injunction to the remaining Pac-12 schools in Colfax today, noting the other ten schools must be allowed to attend meetings but cannot vote on anything. Libey did stay the order until Monday at noon so the defendants in the case, the University of Washington and Pac-12, have time to file an appeal.
The hearing dragged on for more than two hours, with attorneys for both sides making the same arguments that had largely been made in court documents for weeks leading up to the case. The plaintiffs (WSU and OSU) argued that irreparable harm could come to them if the board is allowed to stay at 12 and the precedent to remove members had been set with several meetings being held and decisions made that effect finances without USC and UCLA since their departure. They also argued that “notice of withdrawal” in the Pac-12 by-laws is simply saying you’re going to leave, not the actual action of doing so.
The defendants (UW, the Pac-12) argued basically that the interpretation of the Pac-12 by-laws was wrong, that the schools would be in the conference through next summer and so should have a say in the goings on. One attorney also managed, somehow, to argue only the US Supreme Court should hear the case because of original jurisdiction.
Libey, like every other judge I’ve ever covered, already had his mind made up before the hearing and ruled instantly in favor of WSU and OSU. Following the arguments, he noted that “I grew up in a place where conduct spoke more than words” and issued his order giving control of the conference solely to WSU and OSU.
This is assuredly not the end of it. The loser in today’s hearing was always going to appeal and UW* has already signaled they will. But come Monday at lunchtime, pending a full stay of Judge Libey’s order by a court of appeals, WSU and OSU will have sole control of the conference.
It’s no fun when the rabbit’s got the gun, is it?
*We should note, in this case, UW is representing themselves and the other nine schools amicus curiae because they have standing.
UPDATE 11/15: 3:00 p.m.: As expected, UW has filed an appeal directly with the Washington State Supreme Court, asking for a hearing and an extension of the stay until the court can take up the appeal.