Pac-12 Hires MGM's George Kliavkoff as New Commissioner

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The Pac-12 has hired sports entertainment executive George Kliavkoff as its new commissioner, the conference announced on Thursday.

He will begin his new five-year contract on July 1. 

“At each step of his career, George has navigated complex, quickly changing environments and has been a successful consensus builder," University of Oregon president Michael H. Schill, chair of the five-member search committee, said in a statement. "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."

Kliavkoff was the president of MGM Sports & Entertainment since 2018. In his role, Kliavkoff had been responsible for the operations, finance, strategy, booking, marketing, sponsorships and ticketing for MGM Resorts' more than 30 theaters, showrooms and arenas.

Before his time at MGM, he served as the CEO of Jaunt Inc., an augmented and virtual reality start-up that worked with clients like NFL, NBA and MLB, to develop immersive content technologies. He also previously served in executive roles with Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, NBCUniversal and Major League Baseball Advanced Media.

Kliavkoff replaces Larry Scott, who announced his departure in January but is staying on until June 30.

Scott took over as commissioner in March 2009 after previously serving as chairman and CEO of the Women's Tennis Association. He led expansion efforts in '10 with the additions of Utah and Colorado, then launched the Pac-12 Network in '12.

He and the league have drawn criticism for the Pac-12 Network's distribution issues, which have contributed to the large revenue gap between the Pac-12 and the rest of the Power 5 conferences. The Pac-12 said that the decision to part ways with Scott more than a year before his contract expired in 2022 was made, in part, so that Scott's replacement would be in place to "negotiate and maximize the Conference’s next important long-term media rights agreement." 

In January, Scott told Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger that he should not have struck such a long-term television deal in 2011. Years later, the deal has his teams operating under an antiquated contract that generates far fewer dollars than the Big Ten and SEC.

"There are a lot of things I could have done better along the way,” Scott said. “If there’s one thing I could wave a magic wand over, it’s that.”

Kliavkoff said in a statement that his job at the conference will be to help “manage the balance between continued academic excellence, student-athlete well-being and an even higher level of athletic achievement.

"This is a challenging time for intercollegiate athletics, but I believe these challenges also create significant opportunities,” he 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."

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