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Pac-12 Media Day: Notes From Commissioner George Kliavkoff's Press Conference

The newly promoted conference commissioner had plenty to offer moving forward into the new season.

You only get one chance for a first impression.

The college football world currently has their undivided attention to the Pac-12 Tuesday, as the conference's media day was hosted in Hollywood, Calif. First-year commissioner George Kliavkoff commenced Media Day with a 30 minute introductory press conference and Q&A from the media. 

Kliavkoff, talking to the entire college football world for the first time, offered his two cents on a wide range of issues, stemming from Name, Image and Likeness laws to potential conference expansion. 

Certainly, many would have preferred an easier climate to present themselves. However, Kliavkoff spoke for nearly half an hour on topics pertaining to the Pac-12 and the overall landscape of college football.

Vaccinations Going Strong in Pac-12

"As a conference, nine of our 12 schools are requiring vaccinations for all students. We have been strongly encouraging everyone to get vaccinated, including through educational webinars and public service announcements," said Kliavkoff. 

"We plan to have safety protocols in place that include regular testing for any student-athlete who is unvaccinated as well as for anyone vaccinated or unvaccinated who is symptomatic. Thirty-three days out from our first football game, two-thirds of our teams have already achieved more than 80% of their players being vaccinated. And half of those teams are above 90%. We're very proud of that."

College Football Playoff Spots in Mind When Making Decisions

"Unlike conferences with a single dominant team, we often have multiple top teams and significant depth in the conference and a nine-game conference schedule. While this has led to greater parity, it has historically hurt us in the ratings and it has certainly cost us CFP invitations," said Kliavkoff. 

"I want to be 100% clear: Going forward, the Pac-12 conference will make all of our football-related decisions with the combined goals of optimizing CFP invitations and winning national championships. This is a decision fully supported by all 12 of our athletic directors."

Kliavkoff also revealed the Pac-12's football strategic group, similar to the one already in place for basketball.

He said, "Today we are announcing the formation of a football strategic working group led by (senior associate commissioner) Merton (Hanks). The football group will include our football head coaches and our ADs. The mandate for this group is simple: Recommend changes to our football program with the goal of optimizing for CFP invitations and winning championships. 

"Consistent with my meeting with our ADs in Las Vegas, I can confirm that every decision the conference makes related to football is on the table for discussion. We will look at our conference schedules, including the number of conference games that we play, and the start time of each game. We will look at our non-conference scheduling. We will evaluate whether having divisions does or does not make sense. 

"We will work collectively to keep our very best recruits in our markets and to market our league to recruits everywhere. The football working group will begin meeting immediately and provide regular updates and recommendations to me and our board."

Texas/Oklahoma Fallout with Big 12

"Before I conclude my remarks, I'd like to quickly address some of the significant recent developments related to college athletics," said Kliavkoff. 

"If the media reports turn out to be true, we believe the move by Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 to the SEC strengthens our unique position as the only Power-5 conference with teams in the Mountain and Pacific time zones. 

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"We have a stable, highly successful, and well positioned membership with a high bar to entry. Given our investments in football and men's basketball, our historic domination of other sports, we do not think expansion is required to continue to compete and thrive. That said, the fallout from Texas and Oklahoma gives us an opportunity to once again consider expansion. We had already had significant inbound interest from many schools. We will work with our presidents and chancellors to evaluate these opportunities. 

"We expect these decisions to take some time and we will not be sharing any further information today about ongoing expansion discussions."

Pac-12 in Favor of NIL for Athletes

"The Pac-12 is also in favor of student-athletes being able to benefit from their name, image, and likeness, and we welcome the changes that were implemented by the NCAA on July 1st," said Kliavkoff.

"We support the opportunity of our athletes to monetize their personal brands just as other students on campus are able to build and market their own intellectual property. I want to announce today that the Pac-12 networks will be launching a new licensing program to provide student-athletes highlights and content to any company that is working with any of our Pac-12 student-athletes in connection with their NIL. 

"This initiative, which leverages our network's rights and capabilities, will be one of many we plan to implement to support our Pac-12 student-athletes in the new NIL landscape. Although we support legitimate NIL, we also support a bright line against any payments designed to induce a player to join a specific school or any payments that resemble pay-for-play. 

"These are non-negotiables and we must continue to work with Congress to draft a federal law that clearly establishes this line to protect what is distinct about college sports and the integrity of our competitions. 

"I believe the implementation of NIL can be a significant competitive advantage for our Pac-12 schools. Our schools sit in some of the largest and most desirable media markets in the world. Many of our prominent alumni have started or currently run some of the biggest and most important companies in the world."

Pac-12 Officially in Support of College Football Playoff Expansion

"Finally, as I mentioned before, the Pac-12 is in favor of CFP expansion. We believe allowing more teams and athletes to compete for a national championship is a win for the Pac-12 and for our football players," said Kliavkoff. 

"We appreciate the work that was done to put forward the initial 12-team proposal. There is much about the proposal that we like. But the Pac-12 and the other conferences that were not part of the two-year process to create the proposal will need some time to collect feedback from our stakeholders and identify any issues that need addressing. 

"As we identify these issues, we will work collaboratively with our CFP partners to recommend an expansion plan that increases access, takes into account the best interests of our student-athletes, and also preserves the rich traditions of college football."

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Donnie Druin is a Deputy Editor with AllSunDevils. Follow Donnie on Twitter @DonnieDruin, and AllSunDevils @AllSunDevils. Like and follow AllSunDevils on Facebook, and for more ASU news visit https://www.si.com/college/arizonastate/