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- Here's the affiliate sports contract between the WCC, OSU and WSU:
Here's the affiliate sports contract between the WCC, OSU and WSU:
Oregon State and Wazzu have some decisions to make
Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
On December 22 of 2023, the West Coast Conference made a significant and unusual announcement. They were adding Oregon State and Washington State as affiliate members in 12 sports, including men’s and women’s basketball.
WCC institutions share a rare level of geographic and institutional similarities, as all full members are private, faith-based institutions on the West Coast with enrollments under 11,000 students. While it isn’t uncommon for leagues to add the occasional affiliate member from outside that profile to make numbers work for Olympic sports (San Jose State, for example, plays Water Polo in the WCC), large-scale affiliate memberships are uncommon. A public school hasn’t played basketball in the WCC since the late 1970s.
But these are uncommon times, so uncommon solutions make sense. With the Pac-12 mostly disintegrated thanks to defections to the Big 12 and Big 10, Washington and Oregon State needed Olympic homes in the short term while they figure out if they could rebuild the Pac-12, or if merging with another conference makes more sense. The WCC bolsters their athletic profile, OSU and WSU get competitive games in their time zone, and everybody wins.
Thanks to an Open Records Request, Extra Points has obtained a copy of the actual contract between the WCC and the remaining Pac-2 institutions, which sheds more light on the nature of the agreement. This contract is dated Dec 21, 2023, or the day before the official WCC press release.
Here’s how some of the money works
While it doesn’t always happen, it isn’t uncommon for schools joining new conferences as either full or associate members to pay some sort of entrance fee. While not explicitly called an entrance fee, the WCC contract does call for OSU and WSU to pay specific fees, per sport, to join the league:
The agreement also states that OSU and WSU have to pay those fees, even if they decline affiliate membership in a specific sport over the next two years. The WCC also specifically points out that OSU and WSU’s league membership is critical for the WCC to hit certain minimum membership requirements for Women’s Golf and Softball.
If either school decides not to compete as an affiliate in any of the mentioned sports for the 2024-2025 or 2025-2026 season, the school would also be required to pay an additional $125,000 withdrawal fee, above and beyond the specific sports fees. The WCC also reserves the right to terminate affiliate membership in other sports.
What about baseball?
Conspicuous in its absence from the contracted affiliate memberships is baseball. Washington State has struggled a little bit recently but made the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and 2010 and has produced a few Top 100 RPI-level teams in recent memory. But Oregon State is a national power, one that expects to host regionals and compete for NCAA championships. The WCC is a decent baseball league, and WSU would be a nice fit for them, but Oregon State would easily be the best program in the conference.
According to the contract, both schools have until Jan 26 to give the WCC an answer about baseball membership.
I reached out to the WCC, Oregon State, and Washington State about this deadline earlier in the week, and all three said that they have no updates to share. January 26 is tomorrow, so I would expect some sort of update on this front very, very soon.
Broadcast rights, fees, and revenue sharing
Based on my reading of this contract provision, all of Oregon State and Washington State’s affiliate sports broadcasts, including home games, would fall under the existing WCC media rights deal. This would include broadcasts for OSU and WSU basketball games.
My reading from this is that the affiliate schools won’t get any of the WCC media rights television revenues. It is also unclear if ESPN and/or CBS Sports increased payouts because of Oregon State and Washington State-related inventory.
The contract also specifies that the affiliate members “are not entitled to and will not receive any cash or other distributions from the WCC”
My reading of that clause would suggest that NCAA Tournament Units for men’s basketball would remain with the WCC and not be distributed to OSU and WSU.
It looks like the WCC is getting a pretty good deal…which they probably should!
The WCC doesn’t need to extend affiliate memberships for all of these sports. While they do badly need members for softball and Women’s Golf, they could have only invited WSU and OSU for those sports alone. The Pac-2 schools don’t fit the institutional profile of other WCC institutions, and integrating them on such a short-term contract will represent significant administrative work. Washington State could also potentially mean an increase in some travel costs and time for WCC institutions.
But adding the two schools does make the league better on the field, and provides significant stability for OSU and WSU. At the cost of a little financial flexibility, they can now build schedules that are almost exclusively in the Pacific Time Zone for the bulk of their Olympic sports, compete against enough high-quality competition to compete for NCAA postseason access and retain the flexibility to build something new without having to pay an impossible exit fee, if necessary.
From the cheap seats, it looks pretty reasonable to me.
But who knows what the future of the Pac-2 holds?
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