OSU, UO hold information session on student, community impact of PAC-12 exits

As universities leave the PAC-12, Oregon State University leaders held a meeting in Salem Thursday to talk about what the future means for both OSU and UO.
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 8:33 PM PDT
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SALEM Ore. (KPTV) - As universities have decided to leave the PAC-12 Conference during the last few months, just two schools remain in the PAC-12, Oregon State University being one of them. On Thursday, school leaders held a meeting in Salem on what the future means for both respective schools.

In August, the University of Oregon announced their departure from the PAC-12. The university’s president, Karl Scholz, says staying in the PAC-12 for an additional five years would no longer allow them to be a self-funded athletic program.

“I believe the UO’s move to the Big 10 is the right thing to do in todays’ world,” says Scholz. “The conference was not stable or secure in its organizational future. The other path was to accept the offer to join the Big 10 which provides stability.”

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However, Oregon State is still looking for solutions. In a letter released to Beaver nation on Tuesday by Jayathi Murthy, OSU president, and Scott Barnes, vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics, the school outlined how the PAC-12 shakeup could have a direct impact on the university and community.

OSU projections show a potential loss of income between the 2024 fiscal year and the 2025 fiscal year. The majority of the loss comes from media revenue. Between ticket sales and other funds, that’s a decline by as much as 44% potential lost revenue. Barnes says they predict over $40 million drop in annual revenue in one year.

Another concern for the university is to keep scholarship funds afloat. OSU commits almost $10.4 million a year that is covered by conference media revenue and the repayment of the athletic department COVID-19 debt is $31.8 million.

“If left unpaid, this debt will ultimately be paid by OSU students through ENG funds which consist of tuition and state fund allocations,” says Barnes.

OSU says the new $160 million Reser Stadium will make a positive impact.

“Reser stadium is a major asset for us and will generate enough revenue for the debt service as well as provide additional income to support all teams in our athletic dept,” says Barnes.

Visit Corvallis, a destination organization, says Beaver nation brings in 35,000 people for a football game as well as millions of dollars to surrounding areas like Albany, Lebanon, Benton and Linn counties.

They have some concerns about how this is going to impact them as football weekends - a lot of times are when a lot of these places really bring in a lot of revenue,” says Christina Rehklau with Visit Corvallis.

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The change up could also have a negative impact on the student athletes. OSU student athlete for the rowing team, Evan Park, says the possibility of competing across the country could affect academics or lead to issues like mental health.

A lot of us take online classes just to make it easier to travel,” says Park. “Some athletes couldn’t do that, or pursue specific degrees that they want it.”

OSU says they are a part of the PAC-12 but as of the 2024 season, they are not officially in a conference and are currently exploring multiple options.