The latest bend to conference realignment has popped in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon State and Washington State will join the West Coast Conference as affiliate members and play league games — with the exception of football and baseball — against WCC schools for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 seasons. 

The WCC's presidents and athletic directors voted and unanimously approved the measure Thursday morning, a source said, and the conference officially announced the addition of Oregon State and Washington State on Friday. CBS Sports first reported the news.

For men's and women's basketball, this means the nine-school WCC will enlarge to 11 teams for the next two seasons — increasing the conference's appeal and scheduling power in the process. 

"The WCC has a great history of national success, and we look forward to continued excellence with the addition of Oregon State and Washington State as affiliate members of the Conference," WCC commissioner Stu Jackson said in a statement. "These are two prestigious institutions with a robust athletics profile that each embody the intrinsic values of the WCC. 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."

In football, Oregon State and Washington State already have a separate agreement in place for 2024 with the Mountain West. (The WCC does not sponsor football.) Other sports that will play other the WCC tent for the next two years include softball, volleyball, cross country, golf, soccer and tennis.

Industry speculation over the past two months centered around the idea that OSU and WSU would follow football's lead and eventually link with the Mountain West in all sports. But logistical and ongoing legal concerns have combined to make a move in basketball and non-revenue sports difficult at this time, sources said.

In becoming WCC members from July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2026, Oregon State and Wazzu will compete for regular-season and postseason WCC titles. That means they're eligible for automatic-qualifier status for NCAA championship events, most notably basketball's NCAA Tournament.

In basketball, the league schedule will inflate from 16 games to 18 or 20, a source added. Tweaks to the WCC Tournament format are also coming. The financial payouts for NCAA Tournament units have not been disclosed. Those units earned for each tournament victory are based on an average monetary value of a league's annual tournament success. Because of Gonzaga's influence on the league, the WCC's arrangement differs from most.

This bifurcated conference move by OSU and Wazzu is believed to be unprecedented in college sports history. Then again, so is the collapse of a 108-year-old league (Pac-12). The deal was quietly negotiated in the past few weeks by WCC commissioner Stu Jackson, who has a lifelong basketball background and was hired away from the Big East in April after nine years with that league. 

The news is the latest positive push for OSU and WSU. The duo recently kept their grip on voting rights and financial control of the Pac-12, even as that league's fate remains unresolved. Oregon State and Washington State are in a legal battle with the 10 departing Pac-12 members over revenue left behind when the current TV deal expires July 1, 2024. 

The outgoing Pac-12 schools had been working through the courts to keep status quo on voting and money payouts for all 12 members, despite 10 of them jettisoning in 2024 for lucrative new arrangements in the Big Ten and Big 12.

Oregon State and Wazzu were in effect hung out to dry by the decisions of the others to abandon the Pac-12; a Washington judge sided with those two over the other 10. In turn, the Mountain West and WCC have provided a collective scheduling lifeline as they try to work through an unprecedented college sports quagmire. 

With scheduling arrangements now in line for the near-future, OSU and WSU can continue to determine how to potentially salvage the Pac-12 as a league — most likely by merging with another conference, if feasible — thanks to tens of millions in revenue still cataloged to be distributed in the coming years. 

It's a two-season bridge-gap before the next College Football Playoff TV contract can begin in 2026. 

What happens with OSU and WSU beyond the spring of 2026 is foggy. Sources told CBS Sports the Mountain West would have interest in a long-term partnership with the two as full members once everything legal and financial is sorted out in the months/years to come with the fallout of the Pac-12. As it stands in football for 2024, the schools won't be eligible for the Mountain West championship game. Unlike basketball and other sports, they will essentially compete as independents in the new 12-team College Football Playoff and — same as Notre Dame — cannot qualify for a first-round bye by being ranked in the top four. 

In baseball, Oregon State is a strong enough program that it intends to play as an independent in the near-term, sources said, with Washington State doing the same.  

The short-term basketball arrangement is a make-good for the WCC, which lost BYU to the Big 12. In its 72-year history, the WCC has five Final Fours and two national championships (both by San Francisco in the 1950s). Gonzaga also has two title-game appearances as of late (2017, 2021). In the past 11 NCAA Tournaments, the league has averaged 2.0 March Madness bids. 

The WCC is set for an upgrade. Can it emerge stronger in the back half of the 2020s, or will this be a temporary bump? As CBS Sports previously reported, Gonzaga remains a hotly debated expansion target for Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark. With that threat still looming, sources said the WCC is still pursuing further expansion in the next couple of years, regardless of whether it can keep OSU, WSU and/or Gonzaga for the long haul.