Three Thoughts From New Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff’s Press Conference

May 13, 2021, 1:18 PM

George Kliavkoff...

(L-R) Keith Wachtel, Chief Revenue Officer for the NHL, Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, and George Kliavkoff, President, Entertainment & Sports, MGM Resorts pose for a photo after a press conference to announce MGM Resorts as the Official Sports Betting Partner of the National Hockey League on October 29, 2018 at the NHL Headquarters in New York City. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Pac-12 Conference held an introductory press conference on Thursday to introduce the new Commissioner George Kliavkoff.

The move will be made on July 1 that will transition from Larry Scott to George Kliavkoff, who will be taking over after running MGM.

Here are three thoughts from the comments that Kliavkoff made during his press conference on Thursday.

Making Football, Men’s Basketball More Competitive

One of the things that Kliavkoff wants to improve within the conference is how competitive the programs are. He went into great length as to what he would like to change.

“I’ll start by saying my deep belief that the Pac-12 can consistently compete and win for both football and men’s basketball titles without jeopardizing our shared commitment to academic excellence, or the well being of the student athletes. My work on football will begin with meetings with the AD’s and coaches, and with my new colleagues at the conference office,” Kliavkoff said. “I believe personally the solution to elevating Pac 12 football is a combination of addressing structural issues, and a more focused approach on recruiting. So starting with the structural changes, I’ll be pushing to expand the college football playoff. I believe that is not good for college football. For the vast majority of college football fans when 20 of the 28 CFP bids 71 percent go to just for schools.

“Think about the fact that in almost any NCAA sport, an athlete has an 18 to 25 percent chance of participating in their sports postseason every year. In football, that number is three percent,” Kliavkoff added. “Structurally, we also need to review and address non-conference and conference scheduling, game times, and any other competitive decisions made at the conference level. Everything is up for review to make us more competitive, I want to be clear about that. Finally, on structure, we’re going to invest to create standardized technology at the conference level to share with the teams to help the schools recruit and be more competitive on the field. With respect to recruiting and being competitive in recruiting, I think there are lessons to be learned from public and private institutions that make their lifeblood on being able to retain and attract great talent. At the conference level, we will invest to give Pac-12 athletes, football players and others, an opportunity to create a bigger social platform. We believe video creation and other tools help the athletes and once an NIL comes into effect that will help the athletes substantially.”

Kliavkoff was asked what the greatest strength of the Pac-12 is as well as their greatest weakness.

“The Pac-12’s greatest strength is the member institutions and the student athletes,” said Kliavkoff. “We have some of the greatest institutions, not just in the country, but in the world. The value of a Pac-12 education cannot be overstated and we’re going to make a big deal about making that very public. The greatest weakness if we’re honest with ourselves is the number of years it’s been since we won a football or men’s basketball championship and we’re gonna do everything we can at the conference level to fix that.”

Television/Media Rights Deal

The big task that Kliavkoff will have to tackle early on the job is renegotiating the television and media rights deal that seemed to have been difficult for Larry Scott. Kliavkoff talked about the Pac-12 Networks remaining a part of the conference but needing to expand it.

“I think media rights is just one of the big opportunities in front of us, I think we have several years to figure it out,” Kliavkoff mentioned. “But I think one of the first things is to determine when to start those renegotiations. With respect to the Pac-12 Network, I believe it’s part of the future of our media distribution strategy. Today, the Pac-12 Network has far fewer subscribers than any other comparable network and we have to fix that. I think there’s a way to fix that through structuring and relationships. But we have to get the Pac-12 Network distributed every place on every platform that our fans want to be able to consume that content. I also think about the media rights in the Pac-12 Network as being a small slice of the media rights that we can create and distribute. There are some very obvious and perhaps not so obvious ideas to optimize the revenue from distribution of our content and slicing and dicing that content. It’s candidly what I’ve done it many of my previous roles with great success. But just to be clear, I’m not going to get into those ideas before doing the work to validate.”

No Relocation For Conference HQ As Of Right Now

With much speculation about the conference headquarters relocating under the new commissioner, that won’t be the case at least as of right now.

“Well, I want to be clear, I am with my family relocating to San Francisco, and will be working full time in San Francisco,” Kliavkoff stated. “I think the emergence of Las Vegas as a sports capital of the world is significant. I think having our two major championships, there is a good first step. I’d like to see us do more with Las Vegas. But I’m very, very focused on all of those other opportunities that I outlined first.”

This does not mean that the headquarters will remain in San Francisco. It makes perfect sense given the background of Kliavkoff and how big of a sports city Las Vegas has become to not eventually relocate there.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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Three Thoughts From New Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff’s Press Conference