The Pac-12 has officially hired their next commissioner. First confirmed by the Associated Press, the Conference of Champions will be led by George Kliavkoff.
Kliavkoff is the president of MGM Sports and Entertainment, based in Las Vegas. He was responsible for booking, marketing, sponsorships and finance, among other roles. Before that, he was the CEO of Jaunt, Inc., which worked closely with the NFL, NBA and MLB.
This hire was a surprising move, but it makes sense for the Pac-12. Their biggest struggle over the last decade — under Larry Scott’s leadership — was their inability to market the Pac-12 conference. Of the Power 5 conferences, the Pac-12 has been a distant fifth in revenue.
Now that college athletics are moving into the new NIL world, in which players can generate income based on name, image and likeness, the role of marketing will only grow. If the league does not rebuild its national brand, it will fall further behind the other major conferences.
Reading further between the lines, this hire could signal the Pac-12 moving its offices from San Francisco to Las Vegas. The conference has insisted on spending millions of dollars to be in the Bay Area, but it would make more sense financially and geographically.
Las Vegas already hosts all its conference tournaments, including football, which will be held in the Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium starting December, 2021.