Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff Addresses Realignment, NIL

Jul 29, 2022, 10:46 AM
George Kliavkoff - Pac-12 Media Day...
(Photo courtesy of John McGillen, Pac-12)
(Photo courtesy of John McGillen, Pac-12)

SALT LAKE CITY – One of the biggest storylines entering Pac-12 Media Day and commissioner George Kliavkoff is conference realignment and NIL.

Those two things were addressed during the press conference held by George Kliavkoff to open Pac-12 Media Day when he talked about realignment and NIL.

“When I look at what is taking place in college sports, I believe that we have collectively lost sight of the student-athlete,” Kliavkoff said. “We need to recalibrate our approach to ensure our filter for any decision is what is in their best interest.”

George Kliavkoff On Conference Realignment

Now that USC and UCLA are heading to the Big Ten in 2024, the approach has changed for Kliavkoff.

“Moving ahead we are bullish about the Pac-12’s future and our opportunities for long-term growth, stability and success,” Kliavkoff stated. “Our conference boasts 10 of the most iconic and innovative brands in all of sports, all-around excellence in academics and athletics, and a half dozen of the most valuable markets in this country.”

It’s been reported that the 10 schools remaining in the conference are committed to staying together. Kliavkoff addressed that.

“We’ve had two board meetings a week for the last four weeks,” the commissioner said. “Looking my colleagues in the eye, understanding their commitment, that their first priority is making sure that the Pac-12 survives, thrives and grows and is successful. They’re committed to the conference. I think the best thing to do is to ask them about it. With respect to the Big 12 being open for business, I appreciate that. We haven’t decided if we’re going shopping there or not yet.”

Finally, a media member in Los Angeles asked if the Pac-12 has spoken to the Mountain West about a potential merger. Kliavkoff was very short in his response.

“We have not dug into merging with the Mountain West. That’s not one of the options we’ve looked at,” Kliavkoff said.

George Kliavkoff On NIL

When Kliavkoff addressed NIL (Name, Image, Likeness), he urged the other 10 FBS conferences to come together in a unified agreement.

“I believe it is time for the 10 FBS conferences to step in and agree to NIL legislation and a strong, effective and expeditious enforcement mechanism,” Kliavkoff mentioned. “All 10 conferences are strongly in favor of student-athletes being able to benefit from their NIL.”

Kliavkoff backed up his message by talking about what the nation needs to do to make NIL an even playing field for all.

“We also need three simple and obvious guardrails: NIL should not be used as an inducement. NIL should not be used as pay-for-play,” Kliavkoff said. “And the amount earned as NIL payments should be commiserated what the NIL provided and not a veiled inducement or pay-for-play. These are current NCAA rules that the NCAA has unfortunately chosen not to enforce in the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Alston. Recodifying and enforcing these three simple NIL rules will protect our student-athletes while still allowing them to earn.

“Second, it’s time for us to consider steps we can take to fairly recognize our student-athletes’ contributions and more appropriately allocate the resources created through athletics without fundamentally changing the role of our educational institutions. While I do not believe that our student-athletes should be treated as employees, we must recognize and meaningfully address the extraordinary ways in which they contribute to our athletic programs, campuses and communities.”

The Pac-12 commissioner offered a solution to this issue.

“One solution might be to consider whether to expand or remove the remaining caps on academic awards,” Kliavkoff stated. “Whatever solutions are considered, there are many reasons why treating student-athletes as employees would be detrimental. There could be a draft system, and athletes would lose the choice of which school to attend. They could lose their ability to transfer between schools. In fact, professional athletes are typically subject to trades or being fired for poor performance. It’s hard to imagine that professional athletes would be required or even allowed to attend school to earn degrees.”

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Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff Addresses Realignment, NIL