Skip to main content

Pac-12 Conference

The Conference
of Champions

Open letter from Commissioner George Kliavkoff to Pac-12 student-athletes

Jul 1, 2021

Dear Pac-12 Student-Athletes,

Today is my first day as Commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference.  The reason I am here is to serve and support every one of you, so the very first thing I wanted to do on my first day is reach out to you personally.

I rowed crew as an undergraduate at Boston University in the late 1980s.  I was recruited in my first week as a freshman solely because of my height.  I made the team, but truth be told, I was not a great rower, I never won a championship and, in fact, I never earned a seat in the 1st varsity boat.  Nevertheless, I loved every minute of being on the team and credit much of my success, in business and in life, to lessons I learned trying my best to become a better rower and, more importantly, a better teammate.  That experience made me passionate about what it means to be a student-athlete, and the opportunities that experience creates for personal and professional development.

The mission of the Pac-12 Conference lines up with my personal experience and was the first thing that attracted me to my new role –

“The Pac-12 Conference is dedicated to developing the next generation of leaders by championing excellence in academics, athletics, and the well-being of our student-athletes.”

If the Pac-12 is to be successful in fulfilling this mission, it will require a continuous and transparent dialogue with you, our student-athletes, and an ability to take on the valuable ideas and feedback you provide. It will also require the full commitment of my team and me to live our mission every single day.

From the research I did before considering this role, I know that the Pac-12 has been a national leader in many respects in supporting student-athletes, from our Student-Athlete Health & Well-Being Initiative focused on your physical and mental well-being, to being the first conference to integrate student-athletes into our formal governance structure, to our efforts over the past years to drive student-athlete reforms related to cost-of-attendance, health care, continuing education and more.

By the same token, now more than ever, with the collegiate landscape in as much flux as it’s ever been, with the ruling last month by the U.S. Supreme Court on matters related to college athletics, and with the conversation around name, image and likeness reaching a tipping point on this very day, the Pac-12 can and must continue to be the leading conference in attracting, supporting and advocating for our student-athletes.  This of course includes first and foremost your health, safety and well-being.  It also includes supporting your success athletically and in the classroom, including well beyond your time as a student-athlete.  It includes listening to all student-athletes, the full diversity of viewpoints and in particular on issues related to social justice and gender equity.  And it includes your brand, and doing everything we can to support and promote your brand.

This will be my mission – and my commitment – to you.  I recognize that words only achieve meaning through action.  I will let my actions back these words over the coming days, weeks, months and years.

I also pledge that the decisions we make at the Conference level that affect you and your teammates will be driven by your input, which I am very eager to hear.  I plan to spend a lot of time at all of our campuses with student-athletes to understand your goals, your concerns and your viewpoints, which I will incorporate into our Pac-12 strategies and actions.

The last 15 months have been very difficult on all of us, but today marks a fresh start.  I look forward to beginning this journey in partnership with you.

With kind regards,

George Kliavkoff