Source: Pac-12 hires MGM exec as commissioner

  • Covers the Pac-12.
  • Joined ESPN in 2014.
  • Attended Washington State University.

George Kliavkoff, the president of entertainment and sports for MGM Resorts International, has been hired as the next commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Kliavkoff replaces Larry Scott, who had been the commissioner since 2009. The Pac-12 announced in January that Scott’s tenure would end in June, with roughly a year left on his contract, and that he was expected to assist in the transition to a new commissioner.

An executive search committee of Washington State president Kirk Schulz, Washington president Ana Mari Cauce and Oregon president Michael Schill, along with search firm TurnkeyZRG, led to Kliavkoff’s hiring, which was first reported by The Associated Press.

The Pac-12 announced a 2 p.m. ET news conference Thursday to introduce the new commissioner without disclosing who it is.

Scott was hired as commissioner of what was then the Pac-10 in July 2009, after previously serving as chairman and CEO of the Women’s Tennis Association. During his tenure, the conference expanded to include Utah and Colorado in 2011 and added a football championship game. Those additions helped secure a 12-year, $3 billion media rights deal with Fox and ESPN in 2011 that set the standard for college sports at the time.

Scott’s tenure will be largely defined by the creation of the Pac-12 Network in 2012, which has been marred by distribution issues throughout its existence and contributed to a widening revenue gap between the conference and its Power 5 peers. While Pac-12 revenue has steadily risen in recent years — the conference distributed more than $32 million per school after the 2018-19 academic year — its numbers lag behind the Big Ten ($55 million per school) and SEC ($45 million per school), which partnered with Fox and ESPN, respectively.

Under Scott’s leadership, the conference remained a powerhouse in several sports, but its success in football and men’s basketball was limited. No Pac-12 team won a national title in either sport and just two — Oregon, in 2017, and UCLA this year — reached the men’s Final Four.

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