Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff at the conference's basketball media day in 2022. Oct 26, 2022; San Francisco, CA, USA; Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff during Pac-12 Media Day at Pac-12 Network Studios. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the world’s worst-kept secrets is now fully out: George Kliavkoff will not continue leading the Pac-12. Yes, that conference is essentially the Pac-2 at the moment, with only Oregon State and Washington State left there following the 2023-24 academic year (and with those schools already taking legal control of the conference). And yes, they were widely expected to move on from current commissioner Kliavkoff (who had held that role since May 2021), and were already reportedly in settlement talks on his contract. But that became official Friday. Here’s that, from Ross Dellenger of Yahoo Sports:

The eventual downfall of the Pac-12 as previously constituted was certainly not all on Kliavkoff. Much of that had to do with the incredible decade-long mismanagement of the conference and its media approach under predecessor Larry Scott. But Kliavkoff himself was responsible for a lot of low points that led to how this wound up. Here are five of those:

5. Suggesting Deion Sanders “absolutely adds value” for media rights: Yes, Sanders’ Colorado drew a lot of attention early on in 2023 before the Buffaloes’ plummet to the earth. But this was always a weird comment from a conference commissioner on a future-focused media deal, especially with it far from clear how long Sanders would be in the conference.

4. Insisting they’d somehow “eventually” catch the Big Ten and the SEC: Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen.

3. Claiming non-movement was positive: The longer we wait, the better our options get.” How’d that work out?

2. “I want the focus to be on football.” Kliavkoff tried last July to redirect questions about the conference future and its media deal into on-field questions. That did not pan out.

1. 2022’s “shopping” and “grenades”: One of the most absurd things during Kliavkoff’s tenure came from back-and-forth public feuding with the Big 12 and commissioner Brett Yormark in the summer of 2022. There, Yormark made it clear his conference was looking to expand with remarks like “We’re open for business,” but he did not specifically target the Pac-12. But Kliavkoff seemed to take that very personally, chiming in with remarks like “With respect to the Big 12 being open for business, I appreciate that. We have not yet decided if we’re going shopping there yet or not.” And he later said “That remark was a reflection of the fact that I’ve been spending four weeks trying to defend against grenades lobbed in from every corner of the Big 12, trying to destabilize our remaining conference.”

In the end, the Pac-12 very much was not able to shop in the Big 12. And the reverse in fact happened, with four schools (Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah) exiting the Pac-12 for the Big 12. And that has a lot to do with Kliavkoff, who could not establish his conference (and its media proposals, including a final ultimately-unsatisfactory one from Apple TV+) as an actual player, even trying to claim that the delay before their final offer was a good thing.

Of course, the Pac-12’s demise goes far beyond Kliavkoff. A lot of that has to do with decisions made by Scott. But Kliavkoff did not help the conference survive, and around his exit, it’s certainly worth looking back at what went wrong for him. And it’s notable to see the conference remnants now officially commit to parting ways with him. There are still many questions for them, including what’s to be done with the Pac-12 Networks, but it’s significant to see Kliavkoff gone.

[Ross Dellenger on Twitter/X]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.