- Pac-12 hires former MGM executive George Kliavkoff as commissioner
- Kliavkoff will replace Larry Scott in charge of the conference in July
- Scott’s tenure was marred by the botched creation of the Pac-12 Network in 2012
On Thursday, the Pac-12 Conference surprisingly announced that former MGM Resorts International executive George Kliavkoff has been hired as the league’s new commissioner. Kliavkoff will officially succeed current commissioner Larry Scott when his contract begins on July 1.
The 54-year-old received unanimous support from Pac-12 presidents and chancellors, per a press release from the conference. In a statement, Kliavkoff said, “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.”
Scott’s Rocky Tenure
Scott said in his own statement that he plans to work with Kliavkoff in the coming weeks to ensure a “smooth transition.” Scott was named commissioner of the conference back in July of 2009, when it was known as the Pac-10. Scott was hired after serving as chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association. The conference expanded to bring in Utah and Colorado under Scott’s watch in 2011, while the league added a conference championship football game, as well.
Scott’s work in the conference helped the Pac-12 land a 12-year, $3 billion media rights deal with Fox and ESPN in 2011. That was the first deal of its kind among college conferences, and it helped pave the way for a number of similar broadcast deals for other college conferences around the country.
The launch of the Pac-12 Network will likely go down as a defining moment during Scott’s tenure with the conference. It was seen as a landmark decision at the time, but constant distribution issues have helped create a massive revenue gap between the Pac-12 and other top conferences. The conference distributed about $30 million to each school after the 2018-19 academic year, which paled in comparison to revenues distributed to each school in the Big Ten ($55 million) and SEC ($45 million).
No Pac-12 team won a national championship in either football or basketball during Scott’s stay. Oregon (2017) and UCLA (2021) were the only men’s basketball programs to reach the Final Four.
Kliavkoff’s Well-Traveled History
The Pac-12 revealed in January that Scott would leave the conference in June with about a year left on his contract. Washington State president Kirk Schulz led an executive committee tasked with finding Scott’s successor along with Oregon president Michael Schill and Washington president Ana Mari Cauce.
In a statement announcing Kliavkoff’s hiring, Schill said, “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.”
In addition to serving as the president of entertainment and sports for MGM from 2018 until this year, Kliavkoff has also been a member of the WNBA’s Board of Governors since 2018. He was formerly a board member of A&E Networks, a board member and interim president of Hulu, and a chief digital officer for NBC. Kliavkoff was also the executive VP of business for MLB Advanced Media between 2003 and 2006.