For the first time since USC and UCLA rocked college sports by announcing plans to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff spoke at length Friday to open the conference’s media days.
Here are some of the highlights of his remarks and Q&A with reporters.
- “I believe that we have collectively lost sight of the student-athlete,” Kliavkoff said of conference realignment.
- He said “We are actively exploring expansion opportunities” and have had “significant inbound” interest.
- Kliavkoff was rather forceful in his comments about the Big 12 as it relates to conference realignment, saying he’s been “spending four weeks trying to defend grenades lobbed from all corners of the Big 12 trying to destabilize the Pac-12.”
- That said, he said, “We haven’t decided if we’re going shopping there yet or not.”
- He said the Pac-12 has not looked at the possibility of merging with the Mountain West.
- He said market/media value, athletic value, academic and cultural fit and the effects on student-athletes will be criteria for deciding which schools to add to the conference.
- Goals are to “optimize for (College Football Playoff) invitations” and win championships.
- Away from realignment (sort of), Kliavkoff said the Pac-12’s media rights negotiations will “accelerate” after the Big Ten’s deal is done, which is expected to be in the next few weeks.
- He said name, image and likeness should not be an inducement for a prospect to go to a school or pay for play.