After weeks of trying to protect the Pac-12 from attacks from the Midwest and East, Pac-12 Commissioner George Klyavkoff went on the offensive, opening the press conference day at Novo on Friday.
Subsequently, Klyavkov outlined the Pac-12 contingency plan. UCLA and USC defectionsexplained why he feels bullish about the future of the smaller conference and where he hopes collegiate sports will go next.
Here are the main takeaways from the Kliavkoff Pac-12 media day.
Love is not lost
Although Klyavkov said he hoped for a return to collegiality in college sports, the commissioner still fired several shots at UCLA and USC for chit-chat. Hinting that the decision was about money, Klyavkov could best save himself by directing the narrative in the direction of the athlete’s well-being.
“Increasing revenue can help us support our student athletes, but focusing solely on money will certainly do more harm than good,” Klyavkov said in his prepared opening remarks. “Our long-term measure of success in college athletics may not be how much money we raise for 10, five, or two conferences, but rather our ability to support the largest number of student-athletes while promoting competition between schools and conferences. . We have to measure how many lives we can change.”
Klyavkoff also mentioned the impact of travel on athletes, pointing to the long trips that await UCLA and USC when they join the Big Ten.
He said he personally instructed everyone to behave well for the next two years until UCLA and USC join the Big Ten in 2024, but when asked if a reconciliation was possible, Klyavkov showed no hope.
“I think it’s unlikely,” he said, noting that UCLA is in a “difficult” situation as the Regents meet later this year to reconsider. “But if they come back, we’ll be happy to have them back.”
Klyavkoff said one of the top three priorities for Pac-12 is currently “actively exploring expansion,” evaluating potential suitors based on media value, athletic strength, academic and cultural fitness, and geography in terms of recruiting and “student-athlete experience.” “. Did you catch a veiled shot at UCLA and USC?
He didn’t bother to refrain from talking about the Big 12, which Commissioner Brett Jormark said was “open for business” this week.
“I appreciate it,” Klyavkov said. “We haven’t decided yet whether we will shop there or not.”
The comment caused laughter and surprise in the reporters’ room. The commissioner later admitted that this remark was not his most collegial moment, especially after he preached trust and teamwork to secure the Pac-12’s future.
“This remark was a reflection of the fact that I spent four weeks trying to defend against grenades that were thrown from all over the Big 12, trying to destabilize our remaining conference,” he said. “I understand why they do this when you look at the relative media value of the two conferences. I understand, I understand why they are scared, why they are trying to destabilize him. I’m just tired of it.”
Klyavkov said he is optimistic about the future long-term growth, stability and success of the Pac-12, and board members have instructed him to focus on adding value to conference media rights and initiating media rights negotiations in addition to exploring expansion.
Expanding media rights includes creating events designed for television such as conference baseball and softball tournaments, raising the level of non-conference competition, and adding revenue streams. Klyavkov added that Pac-12 is the first Power 5 conference to sell the rights to its data.
“Even with the loss of our two schools in Los Angeles following the current cycle of media rights deals, we will be very well positioned among the Power 5 in terms of revenue per school,” Klyavkoff said.
While Pac-12 will lose UCLA and USC, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Southern California conference is over.
“Southern California is very important to us,” he said. “I think there are different approaches to staying part of Southern California. We can end up playing a lot of football games in LA.”
Klyavkov rejected the proposal that the remaining Pac-12 schools be merged into Mountain West, highlighted by the remaining San Diego state option in Southern California. Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir said the Pac-12 had “no official proposals from another conference.”
In secret, Klyavkov spoke about football on Football Media Day when answering a recruiting question, saying he thought the impact would be “neutral” for UCLA and USC as some West Coast recruits might not want to play all their away games two. and three time zones, while others may want to play in the Big Ten.
Klyavkov ruffled his feathers last year when he recognized the importance of football and men’s basketball in his early days, but seemed to play down the importance of Olympic sporting success. However, when the conference went on the defensive, he praised the other sports in the “Conference of Champions” and emphasized what could be a boon to recruiting.
“We think the 10 remaining schools would greatly benefit from the UCLA hiring and USC solution in all sports except football,” Klyavkoff said.