Pac-12 Announces George Kliavkoff as New Conference Commissioner


Justin Prather

Levi’s Stadium, the site of the Pac-12 Championship football game in Santa Clara, Calif. on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. (Photo by: Justin Prather | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Cole Bagley, Sports Editor


Nearly four months after the departure of former Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, the Pac-12 Conference announced Thursday that they have hired George Kliavkoff, the president of sports and entertainment for MGM Resorts, as the newest commissioner. 

Kliavkoff brings a much different perspective to the position as his experience has primarily revolved around the entertainment industry. While at MGM Resorts International, Kliavkoff presided over one of the largest sports and entertainment organizations in the world, directly overseeing the sponsorship spend with professional and collegiate sports leagues. One of those leagues included the Pac-12 with its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and the crowned jewel, Pac-12 Football Championship Game. He also sat on the board of BetMGM, which is one of the three largest betting companies in the U.S.

“I am thrilled to be the Pac-12 Commissioner,” Kliavkoff said in an interview with Pac-12 media. “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.”

While Kliavkoff may be somewhat of a surprise hire to fans and followers of the Pac-12, his former experience provides a plethora of opportunities for the conference to build upon. While considered one of the Power Five conferences, the Pac-12 has struggled to gain recognition and respect from a national point of view, often being seen as the weakest of the five and somewhat of a joke. Additionally, one of former Commissioner Scott’s greatest blunders was the Pac-12 Network which has severely underperformed, never being properly distributed and failing to strike deals with notable carriers such as DirecTV. Kliavkoff will have his work cut out for him in that regard but with former experience in co-leading the largest and most profitable division at Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, overseeing ESPN, A&E, Lifetime and HISTORY, in addition to being the first chief digital officer at NBCUniversal, he is more than qualified to turn things around.

After a unanimous vote by all Pac-12 presidents and chancellors, Kliavkoff signed a five-year contract beginning July 1. Over the next few months, Kliavkoff mentioned he will meet with athletic directors, coaches and student-athletes in order to integrate himself, addressing opportunities and building relationships within the conference. 


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