George Kliavkoff Picked As Pac-12 Commissioner

Pac-12 hires MGM Resorts executive George Kliavkoff as commissioner to replace Larry Scott

Barrett Sallee  (CBSSports.com) —  The Pac-12 announced Thursday that George Kliavkoff has been named its new commissioner. Kliavkoff will take over the conference on July 1 after earning unanimous support from all 12 Pac-12 presidents and chancellors. He replaces Larry Scott, who was let go in January after serving in the role since 2009.

If you have never heard of Kliavkoff before, you’re not alone as he is a neophyte to the college athletics space. He comes to the Pac-12 after serving as the president of entertainment & sports for MGM Resorts International, a role he has held since 2018. He also served as a member on the WNBA’s Board of Governors, BetMGM and Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group during his time at MGM Resorts International. 

“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,” Kliavkoff said. “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.”

Kliavkoff was previously the executive vice president of business with MLB Advanced Media from 2003-06, the chief digital officer at NBCUniversal from 2006-08, and a board member and interim CEO at Hulu from 2007-08. He was also previously a board member for A&E from 2013-16.

“At each step of his career, George has navigated complex, quickly changing environments and has been a successful consensus builder. 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 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.”

This is an interesting hire for the Pac-12. The popularity in sports gambling as increased over the last five years as several states have begun to allow sports betting. Kliavkoff’s ties to the industry certainly indicated that the conference could be taking a more proactive approach to its popularity. Coupled with his experience in the world of streaming and entertainment, that indicates the conference had a forward-thinking approach to this decision.

His hire comes a tumultuous time for the conference. Scott’s rollout of the regional Pac-12 Networks didn’t match that of the SEC, Big Ten and ACC. The Pac-12 also hasn’t placed a team in the College Football Playoff since 2016 (Washington) and has largely become irrelevant in major college athletics.

cbssports.com

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Jamaica
Knighted Member
Jamaica (@jamaica)
May 17, 2021 9:59 am

The articles I have read about this new hiring states everything but the obvious. The PAC12 wants to back into the playoffs by getting the Power 5 conferences to expand the playoff teams. Nothing is ever said about the Presidents admitting they are not supporting their football programs at the same level the other conferences do so they will “legitimately” earn the right to get in. They want exceptions made. This is the real root of the problem that has affected anything to do with West Coast football.

Terrific Tommy
Diamond Member
Terrific Tommy (@terrific-tommy)
May 16, 2021 8:48 pm

Carr will transfer to Indiana University for next season. I really wish him injury-free football and great success. He’s a great young man. 

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
May 16, 2021 8:31 am

This is the most optimistic I have been about SC football in at least two years (maybe longer). It is obvious that Clay is not capable of producing championship caliber teams (IMO, he is the worst HC in Power 5). The Pac requires SC to field a championship caliber team to be competitive monetarily with the other Power 5 conferences. In fact, I would say that the financial success of the Pac is dependent on SC fielding championship caliber football teams and UCLA fielding championship caliber BB teams. Pretty obvious if you have a Pac 12 Commissioner whose goal is… Read more »

PN4SC
Noble Member
PN4SC (@pn4sc)
May 14, 2021 6:49 pm

Actually Alan, fucla has only won 5 of the last 22 matchups.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
May 15, 2021 8:32 am
Reply to  PN4SC

And Brett Hundley has 3 of those five. The other two were the embarrassment of 2018 (I agree with Allen that the 2018 team was the worst SC football team in the last 50 years) and the 13-9 upset that cost SC a chance for four NC appearances in a row.

rleeholder1
Noble Member
rleeholder1 (@rleeholder1)
May 14, 2021 4:39 am

I’ll give George K the benefit of the doubt as he surely faced some tough competition in securing the job. I will be cautious however, due to experience in my business career where a CEO came in with no experience in the specific business my company operated. I was the CFO and it was clear to me that the new CEO was going to bring in his own team so I left before I was shown the door. Before I did leave, the new CEO showed up in my office on his first day and asked me “Where is my… Read more »

Terrific Tommy
Diamond Member
Terrific Tommy (@terrific-tommy)
May 14, 2021 12:53 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Not to mention the fact that Scott has set the bar so low, he can’t help but to look great in comparison. I really hope he will turn out to be a star in that key managerial position.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
May 15, 2021 1:40 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I think George’s success will be based on the quality of people he hires to work under him. It is obvious he can lead, now his toughest job is to get the right people with the talent to swing the Pac12 in the other direction. The previous idiot hired yes men who got way over paid and produced nothing, yet spent enormous amounts of money on essentially nothing. Of course the people who hire the commissioner need to have their stuff together to make sure the Pac12 mission gets accomplished. Not sure we have the minds that are able to… Read more »

Golden Trojan
Diamond Member
Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
May 14, 2021 9:40 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Four major points here. Pac 12 football and basketball have to be National Championship quality. I doubt Folt is opposed to that. Football play offs needs to be expanded, I like an 8 team format. Now the 2 big ones. The conference closely involve in NIL. Maybe as the defacto agent for players conference wide? Just a thought but if the conference is able to promote players conference wide, LA may not have the advantage over smaller markets, but who knows how this will play out. But a savvy commissioner could turn this to an advantage for the whole conference.… Read more »

Last edited 30 days ago by Golden Trojan
Rock2112
Diamond Member
Rock2112 (@rock2112)
May 14, 2021 3:21 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Let me translate this for UCLA and Stanford fans: Your days of strutting around because you racked up titles in women’s soccer and women’s racquetball are OVER!!!

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
May 15, 2021 1:43 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

As I always say, best uniforms in sports.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
May 15, 2021 1:44 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Coming in with an open mind. Good thing.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
May 13, 2021 1:08 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

That is GREAT news. Given the expensive recent hire at the revenue losing SC WBB program, it is doubly good news. The Commissioner’s office should push both SC and UCLA to upgrade football staff (bye bye Clay and Chip). He needs both schools to have nationally competitive Football programs. I trust he will make that message loud and clear to Madame Chairman.

Golden Trojan
Diamond Member
Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
May 13, 2021 2:33 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Wow, just had a flash, imagine USC and UCLA meet in the Rose Bowl for 1st place in the Pac 12 South, ranked 1 and 2 in the polls? The winner plays UW or U of O, ranked in the top 10, for the Pac 12 Championship and ranked #1 in the playoffs.

Golden Trojan
Diamond Member
Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
May 13, 2021 2:33 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Boy is that a long way off!

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
May 13, 2021 1:01 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

From both Wilner and the above, his greatest asset is he is not Larry Scott. Wilner is non-committal on the hire. For me, I think the comment on lack of administrative experience in this field (sports in general and collegiate sports in particular) is my largest concern. I follow the “Outliers” model – it takes 10,000 hours of experience to be competent in a field. My personal experience was it took me 10,000 hours to learn to be a lawyer and then another 10,000 hours to learn the financial services area of law. If the same rule applies to Kliavkoff,… Read more »

RialtoTrojan
Noble Member
RialtoTrojan (@rialtotrojan)
May 13, 2021 11:22 am

Yeah, but can he play tennis? I don’t know him but I was thinking about the gambling angle. I’ll bet there is a change in the area soon. Does anyone suppose he can make the PAC 12 Network better? I pay for it, but I don’t know why. I watch maybe two events per season.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
May 13, 2021 11:22 am

I will be interested to see how Jon Wilner and Arledge reports on this hire. Again, it seems very odd to me. It would appear that he is the type one would hire as a consultant rather than a CEO. He has zero experience with collegiate sports, zero experience in dealing with academic institutions, zero experience in managing any type of sports enterprise, zero experience negotiating sports media rights, and zero experience in football or basketball management. On the surface, it looks like he will have a significant learning curve. But, I defer to Wilner, who is far more knowledgeable… Read more »

Trojan5
Knighted Member
Trojan5 (@trojan5)
May 13, 2021 12:36 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Until today I had no idea who Klivakoff was. Based on his resume and interview I am impressed. A few things stuck out to me. 1) he mentioned football, coaches & AD’s a lot. In 15 minutes he demonstrated more awareness than Scott did in his entire tenure. 2) He wasn’t afraid to say he didn’t know something. In my life experience people who can admit they don’t know everything are confident in themselves. And those people are good leaders & coworkers.

usc72
Active Member
usc72 (@usc72)
May 13, 2021 1:03 pm
Reply to  Trojan5

Ditto on the positive of admitting to what one doesn’t know. Seen very successful senior execs with that attribute.

Trojan5
Knighted Member
Trojan5 (@trojan5)
May 13, 2021 1:58 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Ha! After I hit send I realized I gave George K credit for not being Scott. I should have chosen my words better. I should have known you would catch me Allen.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
May 15, 2021 1:53 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I have to say Allen, it is an asset not being Larry Scott. Just like it is an asset not being Clay Helton.

Terrific Tommy
Diamond Member
Terrific Tommy (@terrific-tommy)
May 15, 2021 2:52 pm
Reply to  Steveg

Given no choice, with a gun at my head, I’d rather be Clay Helton — Scott was a real clueless dolt IMHO.

UtahTrojan
Knighted Member
UtahTrojan (@utahtrojan)
May 15, 2021 9:46 pm
Reply to  Terrific Tommy

I have a hard time saying Helton has a clue I think we can all say we would not want to be either of them.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
May 15, 2021 1:52 pm
Reply to  Trojan5

Always an asset to know what you don’t know, then admit it. Unlike CH.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
May 15, 2021 1:51 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Consider the fact that his lack of these institutional experiences may bring certain areas into new light. What he needs is the people working for him to be savy, take their advice and expertise and make sound decisions. Something Scott never did.