March 2, 2024 

How Teresa Gould will lead Oregon State, Washington State and the Pac-12 into the unknown

Gould told reporters on Thursday that she is committed to investing and prioritizing women's sports

On that fateful day in summer 2023 when the Pac-12 as we’ve all known it ceased to exist, there was no one more devastated than Teresa Gould.

Continue reading with a subscription to The Next

Get unlimited access to women’s basketball coverage and help support our hardworking staff of writers, editors, and photographers by subscribing today.

Join today

Gould is dyed-in-the-wool, ride-or-die Pac-12. She has served as deputy commissioner of the Pac-12 since 2018. From 2001 to 2014, she was a senior athletics administrator at Cal. Her husband Ron Gould was a football coach in the Pac-12 for 24 years, including six years at Stanford and 16 at Cal.

The past six months have been an exercise for Gould in heartbreak and emotional recuperation. She has been coming to terms with the seismic change to the nation’s premier West Coast college conference, saying goodbyes to longtime employees and colleagues at departing schools, and finding her place in the plan for what comes next.

Gould’s place has now been determined: She became the new commissioner of the Pac-12, effective on Friday. It’s a groundbreaking role in the sense that she will be the first woman to lead a Power Five conference and she will lead a conference with just two remaining teams — Oregon State and Washington State — and an unclear future.

The Next, a 24/7/365 women’s basketball newsroom

The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff and dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.

“Thirty-five years ago, when I decided to pursue a career in intercollegiate athletics, the reason I did it was because I believed so passionately about the role that athletics can play in the context of higher education, and the role that intercollegiate athletics can play in the lives of young people and developing them as leaders,” Gould told reporters on Thursday.

“Since back in August, there hasn’t been a night that’s gone by that I haven’t thought about the more than 1,000 student-athletes on the campuses of Oregon State and Washington State. … All I could think about was that they need a leader prepared to fight for them.”

Gould has the fight in her. The Iowa native fought to bring softball to her hometown, and when she couldn’t, she fought to join the boys’ baseball team. She has battled for equal gym time and equal resources as a senior women’s administrator.

Now she faces the biggest challenge of her — or maybe anyone’s — career as a leader in college sports.

Get 24/7 soccer coverage with The Equalizer

The Next is partnering with The Equalizer to bring more women’s sports stories to your inbox. Subscribe to The Next now and receive 50% off your subscription to The Equalizer for 24/7 coverage of women’s soccer.

Gould, who signed a two-year contract, will lead the Beavers and the Cougars out of the desert while maintaining the Pac-12 brand in the two-year transition period granted by the NCAA. For the next two years, the schools’ football programs will play under a scheduling agreement with the Mountain West Conference. Twelve other sports, including women’s and men’s basketball, will join the West Coast Conference.

After the 2025-26 season lies the great unknown. A merger with another conference that could imperil Power Five status? A rebuild of the Pac-12 with a group of new schools? Even the return of some teams that left is not out of the realm of possibility if the college football landscape blows up.

But right now, it’s not accurate to say that the Pac-12 doesn’t exist, which is why the next few weeks will be filled with qualifiers such as “the Pac-12 as we’ve known it” and tributes will be kept to a minimum.

WSU and OSU want to keep the brand alive — including logos, trademarks, historical records and record books — and you can’t do that by declaring it dead. Not when the changes in college sports keep coming and you never know when you might need a West Coast power again.

Add Locked On Women’s Basketball to your daily routine

Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

Gould said she will have three core responsibilities:

  • Support OSU and WSU in terms of Power Five-level services for athletes, coaches and programs and build infrastructure to support those needs
  • Represent OSU and WSU on the national stage, including the College Football Playoff management committee and within the NCAA structure
  • “Forge a future” for the two programs

“It’s probably the most important piece in terms of impact and importance,” Gould said. “It’s about being bold and aggressive and intentional and attacking challenges head-on, but also being open-minded and making sure we are considering all the options.”

Options, it should be noted, that largely have yet to present themselves. The two schools will operate with a reported budget of $255 million following the departure of 10 schools, and they will need to find a TV partner for their sports that can generate additional revenue.

The Pac-12 Network production facility in the Bay Area that opened last summer will remain open for at least one more year. 

Order ‘Rare Gems’ and save 30%

Howard Megdal, founder and editor of The Next and The IX, released his next book on May 7, 2024. This deeply reported story follows four connected generations of women’s basketball pioneers, from Elvera “Peps” Neuman to Cheryl Reeve and from Lindsay Whalen to Sylvia Fowles and Paige Bueckers.

If you enjoy his coverage of women’s basketball every Wednesday at The IX, you will love “Rare Gems: How Four Generations of Women Paved the Way for the WNBA.” Click the link below to order and enter MEGDAL30 at checkout.

While football has been the driver of the changes both in the Pac-12 and nationally, Gould said she will commit to ensuring that women’s sports and Olympic sports receive significant time and investment.

“One of the things I’ve loved about the Pac-12 is our commitment to the breadth and opportunities for women’s sports and Olympic sports,” she said. “I do think that women’s sports have a lot of financial upside and we need to invest in them and grow them as a product that our fans want. And we need to be thoughtful as we think forward about our options for future conference affiliations to make sure those options are going to work for those sports and support their success.” 

Gould emphasized that the conference and its two members will have to be adaptable and nimble to respond to further change and potential future opportunities.

“We need to be prepared to adjust how we move forward if the industry continues to change at the rapid rate it is,” she said.

Written by Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith has covered women's basketball nationally for nearly three decades. Smith has worked for, The Athletic, the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as and She was named to the Alameda County Women's Hall of Fame in 2015, is the 2017 recipient of the Jake Wade Media Award from the Collegiate Sports Information Directors Association (CoSIDA) and was named the Mel Greenberg Media Award winner by the WBCA in 2019.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.