Report: Washington State president Schulz says Cougars ‘pursuing’ conference membership options 

Conference realignment could go a number of directions from here. 

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz said in an interview Saturday that the program has about three options it is pursuing: join the Mountain West Conference, join the American Athletic Conference or be part of trying to “rebuild” the Pac-12. 

“None of these will be very surprising,” Schulz said. “Right now there’s four members left. But that could change literally within hours. And so I think each of those we’re pursuing in a parallel pathway. And we want to evaluate what’s going to be best for WSU, what’s going to be best for our student athletes, what’s going to be a good academic and athletic fit.”

The Pac-12 is left with four member programs after expansion efforts led to six of its previous schools announced plans to depart for either the Big Ten or Big 12 conferences. Washington State, along with Cal, Stanford and Oregon State, is searching for a next move. 

“We want to be in a position where we control our own destiny as an institution and are not dependent on anybody else, and we want to be in a conference in a place where we can win conference championships,” Schulz said. 

Schulz was appointed to his position as university president at Washington State in 2016, and he spoke to his passion for the conference and the losses it has seen to expansion. 

Schulz said whatever direction Washington State goes, fans will be needed to help assimilate and make sure the transition is as smooth, and successful, as possible. Schulz said he wants among the solutions for Washington State to “remind everybody we’re still a great academic institution” and “not just simply a member” of any conference. 

“Look, I put my heart and soul into the Pac-12 ever since I’ve been here as president, and I’m dismayed and upset and depressed about where that has gone,” Schulz said. “But at the same time, I kind of can’t sit here and go, ‘Well, let’s just wait around and hope a lightning bolt strikes.’ We got to plan aggressively about what’s the right future for Washington State University.”