The Pac-12 Conference announced Thursday they’ve hired a new commissioner to replace Larry Scott. After a search led by its governing executive committee, George Kliavkoff was named as the new figurehead of the conference by a unanimous vote.
Kliavkoff, 54, takes over the Pac-12 after a stint as President of Entertainment and Sports at MGM Resorts International in Las Vegas.
“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,” Kliavkoff said. “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.”
Kliavkoff will lead the conference at a time when several key items need to be addressed. A television rights deal is expected to be a top priority after he takes office in six weeks. And there is no better person than Kliavkoff to execute the best contract for the Pac-12’s future. He brings the expertise and leadership in live sports with direct relationships to media networks.
“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,” said University of Oregon President Michael H. Schill.
“He is the new prototype for a sports commissioner. While George has deep sports experience, his biggest asset is his ability to listen, connect with diverse groups, find common ground, collaborate and navigate an evolving landscape. We believe George’s overall skills and experience will become even more prevalent in college sports leadership.”
In the coming weeks and months, Kliavkoff will meet representatives from every Pac-12 school to begin building relationships. He’s no stranger to the many of the athletic directors in the conference after managing both the Pac-12 Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments and the Pac-12 Football Championship Game at MGM properties. Additionally, he led the company’s global sponsorship sales efforts and sat on the board of BetMGM, one of the three largest U.S. sports betting companies.
Prior to his time at MGM, Kliavkoff co-led the largest and most profitable division at Hearst Entertainment & Syndication, overseeing Hearst’s interests in cable television networks, including ESPN, A&E, Lifetime and History.
He drove significant financial returns for Hearst by managing the purchase of a 50% stake in Mark Burnett Productions, which included signature programming such as Survivor, The Apprentice, Shark Tank, The Voice and The Bible, and then later negotiating a sale to MGM Studios. He was also the first chief digital officer at NBCUniversal.
Kliavkoff’s five-year contract begins July 1, according to the conference.