Pac-12 hires MGM's George Kliavkoff as next commissioner

·3 min read

The Pac-12 has identified its next commissioner.

The conference announced Thursday that it has hired George Kliavkoff as the successor to Larry Scott, whose tumultuous tenure is set to expire June 30. Kliavkoff currently serves as the president of sports and entertainment at MGM Resorts. 

The Pac-12 will introduce Kliavkoff in a news conference later Thursday.

The choice of Kliavkoff concludes a search that spanned the past four months after Scott was let go on Jan. 20. Kliavkoff signed a five-year deal that begins July 1.

Kliavkoff, 54, has no prior experience working in college athletics, but has long worked in the digital media space. Before working at MGM, Kliavkoff had stops at MLB Advanced Media, Hearst, Hulu and NBC Universal. 

When the Pac-12 announced it was parting ways with Scott, it said the timing of the decision was to allow the new commissioner "to be in place to negotiate and maximize the conference’s next important long-term media rights agreement."

In a press release, the Pac-12 said Kliavkoff brings "unparalleled expertise and leadership in live sports and entertainment, fan experience, content creation and distribution, and navigating complicated environments."

FILE - This Aug. 29, 2019, file photo shows the PAC-12 logo at Sun Devil Stadium during second half of an NCAA college football game between Arizona State and Kent State in Tempe, Ariz. There are 130 major college football teams, spread across 41 states and competing in 10 conferences, save for a handful of independents. The goal is to have all those teams start the upcoming season at the same time — whether that's around Labor Day as scheduled or later — and play the same number of games.(AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File)
The Pac-12 conference is poised to announce the hire of George Kliavkoff as the successor to Larry Scott.(AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File)

“George is a visionary leader with an extraordinary background as a pioneering sports, entertainment and digital media executive, and we are delighted and honored that he has agreed to become our next Pac-12 Commissioner,” said University of Oregon president Michael H. Schill, chair of the five-member search committee. 

“He is the new prototype for a sports commissioner. While George has deep sports experience, his biggest asset is his ability to listen, connect with diverse groups, find common ground, collaborate and navigate an evolving landscape. We believe George’s overall skills and experience will become even more prevalent in college sports leadership.”

Added Kliavkoff: “I am thrilled to be the Pac-12 Commissioner. This is a challenging time for intercollegiate athletics, but I believe these challenges also create significant opportunities. I loved being a student-athlete, and I’m passionate about the doors that college sports and higher education open for young women and men. My job at the Pac-12 will be to help manage the balance between continued academic excellence, student-athlete well-being and an even higher level of athletic achievement.”

Former NCAA executive Oliver Luck and Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith were among those reportedly in consideration before the conference landed on Kliavkoff. 

Kliavkoff inherits a challenging situation left behind by Scott. Scott infamously led the way as the Pac-12 launched its own network, but that network failed to gain the traction and visibility of the networks of other Power Five leagues like the Big Ten and SEC. 

Additionally, the Pac-12 has lagged behind on the football field. It has only two appearances in the College Football Playoff since the introduction of the four-team format in 2014. Late in his tenure, Scott pushed for CFP expansion. A few weeks ago, the CFP said it had begun the process of looking at various expansion possibilities, including 8, 10, 12 and 16-team options.

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