Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) released the following statement today in response to news that UCLA and USC had decided to leave the Pac-12 college athletic conference and join the Big Ten.

“As the vice-chair of the state capital construction budget, I have spent my 10 years in the Senate supporting the higher education institutions in our state. I’m extremely proud of what we have accomplished both in the classroom and on the athletic field.

“As a lifelong fan of college sports and Pac-12 football in particular, the news this past week that the L.A. schools will leave the conference was something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. I grew up watching the Don James football teams dominate the rest of the country. But like so many aspects of life, things change, and to be successful we all have to adapt.

“I don’t envy the leadership at either UW or WSU as they grapple with what to do next, but I have full confidence that they will explore every viable option and chart a path forward that is best for their respective students, fans, and athletic programs. And when we return to Olympia in January, I will be open to legislative solutions that might help our state schools navigate this challenge.

“As a former college athlete myself, I know that the primary goal is to compete and succeed at the highest level possible, and we should support each of our universities as they determine how to best position their respective student athletes in that pursuit. Regardless of what happens, I know we can find a way to keep the Apple Cup rivalry alive for the next 100 years!”