The West Coast Conference announced Friday that Oregon State and Washington State have agreed to two-year affiliate memberships that will see both schools participate in the conference in several sports, most notably men’s and women’s basketball.
Both schools will also field women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s golf, women’s golf, women’s cross country and women’s rowing teams. Additionally, OSU will participate in men’s soccer and softball, while WSU will compete in women’s tennis and men’s cross country.
“These are two prestigious institutions with a robust athletics profile that each embody the intrinsic values of the WCC,” WCC commissioner Stu Jackson said in a statement. “The Conference and its member institutions provide valuable opportunities in recruiting, scheduling, broadcast exposure and an exceptional student-athlete experience. OSU’s and WSU’s institutional support and passionate fan bases will only enhance this experience across the Conference.”
Financial terms related to the agreement were not provided.
The two-year affiliation is a short-term solution as part of OSU and WSU’s plan to rebuild the Pac-12 after its collapse that saw 10 other schools depart for the Big Ten, Big 12 and ACC.
Neither school has announced their plans for baseball, which the WCC sponsors. In a statement, OSU said, “Department leaders are in continued exploration of opportunities for the baseball program and an announcement will be made when there is more information to share.”
OSU announced its gymnastics, wrestling, indoor/outdoor track & field and men’s rowing teams will remain categorized as Pac-12 teams, which is made possible by those sports primarily competing in meet or tournament settings.
“This affiliation agreement provides short-term clarity for 10 of our programs and guarantees that our student athletes and coaches can continue to compete for conference and national championships,” OSU athletic director Scott Barnes said in a statement. “We appreciate Commissioner Stu Jackson and the WCC for their partnership. This agreement represents an important step in our strategy to preserve options for the future viability of the Pac-12 conference.
WSU did not announce its plans for women’s swimming, track and field or baseball. One possibility for WSU’s swimming team would be to compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, which hosts 11 sports and has affiliate members from schools all over the country — including Cal, Stanford, UCLA and USC — but is mainly made up of schools on the West Coast.
“As we explore long-term solutions for the Pac-12 Conference and Washington State University, we appreciate Commissioner Stu Jackson and the West Coast Conference for their partnership in providing 10 of our programs affiliate membership,” WSU athletic director Pat Chun said in a statement. “The WCC allows an opportunity for our 10 teams to have access to championships as well as high-level competition. We are grateful to our student-athletes and coaches who have been patient and supportive as we work through the best path forward for WSU.”
Earlier this month, OSU and WSU reached a scheduling agreement with the Mountain West Conference to play six MWC opponents in football during the 2024 season. For a conference to exist, the NCAA requires “at least seven active Division I members,” all of which must sponsor men’s and women’s basketball, and for the conference to sponsor at least 12 Division I sports, among other requirements.
In the case of departures, the bylaws allow a conference a two-year grace period in which it can exist without the minimum number of schools. After the two-year period, it is expected that OSU and WSU will have been able to recruit enough new members to meet NCAA requirements, with one possibility being a so-called reverse merger with teams from the Mountain West.
On Thursday, it was announced that OSU and WSU reached an agreement in principle with the ten departing Pac-12 schools to end ongoing litigation related to control of the conference. That announcement came in the wake of Washington state Supreme Court’s decision last week not to review a lower court’s decision that granted control of the Pac-12 board of directors to OSU and WSU. As part of the agreement, the 10 departing schools will forfeit an undisclosed portion of revenue distributions over the rest of the 2023-24 school year and have provided “specific guarantees against potential future liabilities.”