Pac-12 media deal coming in ‘near future,’ commissioner George Kliavkoff says in rare public remarks

(AP Photo/Lucas Peltier)

LAS VEGAS — In his first public comments in 226 days on the Pac-12’s pursuit of a media rights contract, commissioner George Kliavkoff said an agreement will come in the “near future” — and that the lengthy delay has worked to the conference’s benefit.

“The longer we wait, the better our options get, and I think the board (of directors) realizes that,” Kliavkoff said Friday morning during a question-and-answer session with reporters at the Pac-12’s preseason media showcase at Resorts World Las Vegas.

There has been “an underlying shift” recently in the media landscape and market for live sports, he added. “We’re taking advantage of that. But short-term, it has provided some hiccups.”

Kliavkoff’s tone was vastly more matter-of-fact than his feisty performance at the same event last summer. Back then, the news of USC and UCLA leaving for the Big Ten was raw, and Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark had declared his league “open for business” — a comment Kliavkoff interpreted as an attempt to destabilize the Pac-12.

Media speculation about the Big 12 poaching the so-called Four Corners schools (Arizona, ASU, Colorado and Utah) has been rampant for the last year. But none of the schools have left.

“I kind of know where the source of that is coming from,’’ Kliavkoff said. “I discount that because I know the truth.”

Utah’s Mark Harlan, chair of the Pac-12 Athletic Directors Committee, joined Kliavkoff on the main stage and was asked about his school’s commitment to the conference.

Months ago, Harlan made headlines by announcing “We are not leaving” on social media.

“Our words and actions speak for themselves,” he said Friday. “We are proud members of Pac-12.”

Kliavkoff did not specify a window for resolution on the media rights deal beyond his “near future” comment but said the conference has performed due diligence on expansion candidates.

The timeline for a decision laid out last summer is unchanged: Expansion will be addressed only after the Pac-12 secures a media contract and the university presidents sign a grant-of-rights agreement.

That grant-of-rights deal, which binds each school’s media revenue to the conference and provides vital security, “has already been negotiated,” Kliavkoff said.

On expansion discussions with San Diego State, which has anticipated a membership invitation for months, Kliavkoff added:

“I’m not going to disclose conversations with any candidates. We’ve never given anyone an indication that (the process) would be anything different” than the original sequence.

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