The Pac-12 hired sports entertainment executive George Kliavkoff to be the conference’s next commissioner on Thursday, replacing Larry Scott with a person with a similar resume short on college sports experience.
The conference presidents conducted a secretive nearly four-month search that included speculation about some familiar names in college sports being considered, such as former NCAA executive and NFL quarterback Oliver Luck, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith and Texas AD Chris Del Conte.
Instead, the Pac-12’s next commissioner — much like its last —- comes to the conference with no experience as an administrator in college sports.
Kliavkoff has been in his current role with MGM since 2018 and has extensive experience with professional sports leagues and digital properties.
He has previously worked with Major League Baseball Advance Media and as the chief digital officer with NBC Universal Cable.
“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,” University of Oregon President Michael H. Schill, chair of the five-member search committee, said in a statement. “He is the new prototype for a sports commissioner.”
Scott announced in January that he would be stepping down at the end of June. The Pac-12 said the change in leadership was mutually agreed upon by Scott and the university presidents, but it had been apparent for a while that his term was likely to end before his contract expired in June 2022.
Scott’s 11-year tenure as commissioner began with the conference landing a transformational billion-dollar television deal, but the Pac-12 struggled to keep up with some of its Power Five peers when it came to revenue and exposure.
The Pac-12 launched a television network under Scott, but it never became a cash cow like those in the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference. Scott, who came to the Pac-12 from the Women’s Tennis Association, was often criticized for being out of touch with campus-level decision makers in college sports and overspending on the conference office.
Kliavkoff, 54, takes over as commissioner as the Pac-12 tries to rebuild its football brand. The conference has only placed a team in the College Football Playoff twice since the CFP began in 2014. Scott began pushing for playoff expansion late in his tenure, and now it seems to be heading in that direction.
The next Pac-12 commissioner will not only be charged with shaping the future of the conference, but also of the playoff.