Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff does not anticipate any more teams exiting for the Big Ten or the Big 12, as his league continues to negotiate its next media rights deal.
Speaking on “Canzano & Wilner: The Podcast,” Kliavkoff said the Pac-12 remains unified despite rumors of additional Big Ten expansion and the Big 12’s aggressive pursuit of Pac-12 members.
“Listen, I think if schools would have left for the Big Ten, they would have left for the Big Ten already,” Kliavkoff told reporters John Canzano and Jon Wilner. “Also, I’m very focused on things that are in my control.”
Kliavkoff also doubled down on his guarantee from July that no Pac-12 schools would depart for the Big 12, which reportedly has been targeting Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah. Several administrators from those schools have reiterated their commitment to the Pac-12.
“I talk to our presidents and chancellors and athletic directors all the time; we have conversations about this,” Kliavkoff said. “Everyone is committed to working together to get a great grant of rights, following a good media rights deal, and I take people at their word.”
The Pac-12 opened its media rights negotiations earlier than anticipated because of the USC and UCLA departures. Kliavkoff said that the process is complex but that a deal would happen “in the near future,” also saying he’s confident the 10 remaining members will sign a grant of rights agreement “if we put the right agreement in front of them.”
The league’s current media deal expires in 2024.
“The media rights deal … has always been a balance,” Kliavkoff said. “Certainly revenue is at the top of the priority list, but we also have to balance that against distribution. We really want our content to be available to any of our fans who want to see it. I’ve set a goal that our content should be available on any piece of glass connected to the internet.”
Kliavkoff added that any potential Pac-12 expansion would occur after the media rights agreement is finalized. He also weighed in on UCLA’s challenges to leave the Pac-12, as the University of California regents continue to discuss the impact on Bruins athletes and on California, the system’s other Pac-12 school.
Kliavkoff said the Pac-12 welcomes the review of UCLA’s move and hasn’t ruled out the school remaining in the league.
At a meeting last month, the general counsel of the UC regents said the regents have the right to overturn UCLA’s decision to leave the Pac-12. Kliavkoff said the impact of increased travel to league games creates problems for athletes, families and others.
“We’ve done back-of-the-envelope calculations on the negative impact of UCLA expenses — travel expenses and coaching salaries and other things — just to get to the average Big Ten athletic budget,” Kliavkoff said. “We think that the incremental money they’re going to receive from the Big Ten media rights deal will be more than 100% offset by additional expenses. So you end up taking that money that you earn, and it goes to airline and charter companies and coaches and administrators. It doesn’t go to supporting the student-athletes.”