I have no idea whether this works, but I will say that coming from Larry Scott, the bar is set pretty damned low.
The Pac-12’s new commissioner is MGM Resorts Int’l President of Entertainment & Sports George Kliavkoff, who, like the previous commissioner, Larry Scott, will oversee the Power 5 conference without any previous experience in college athletics.
What is interesting, to say the least, about the hire is what it says about the conference’s priorities.
Kliavkoff comes from a background steeped in digital media, live events and sports wagering, as well as a league stint at MLB Advanced Media. In his three years at MGM, Kliavkoff was president of one of the largest live events companies in the world. His responsibilities stretched from operations to finance, strategy, booking, marketing, sponsorships and ticketing for MGM Resorts’ 35 theaters, arenas and showrooms. Among them are T-Mobile Arena, MGM Grand Garden Arena and Mandalay Bay Events Center. In his role, he also provided direction for BetMGM.
Twenty years ago, a digital media background would have been scoffed at, no previous experience in collegiate athletes would have raised serious questions and sports wagering management would have been outright death for a P5 commissioner’s job. Now, they’re helpful bullet points on a resume.
It’s money that they love and it’ll be his job to do a better job bringing that in for his bosses than Larry Scott did. That means cutting broadcast deals that will be broader in scope, first off. But there’s also got to be a better product to broadcast, and that means attracting more talent. Hence, this:
“I want to go on the record that the Pac-12 is in favor of both the expansion of the College Football Playoff’s four teams and the implementation of consistent guidelines for name, image and likeness,” Kliavkoff said during his introductory news conference. “We think that both CFB expansion and NIL legislation are good for college sports fans, good for our student athletes and can be a significant competitive advantage for the Pac-12.”
The academic mission, she burns. Welcome to the next phase of twenty-first century big time college athletics, peeps.