Skip to main content

Pac-12 commissioner advocates NCAA not be in charge of major college football

George Kliavkoff says he has major support for the idea of separate autonomy

From somewhat surprising hire to oversee the Pac-12 Conference to helping the West Coast league navigate something of a renaissance year since his appointment as commissioner, George Kliavkoff now is wading into deeper waters – preparing, perhaps, to bring his Power 5 league and others into a rigorous debate regarding the NCAA’s ability – or perhaps lack thereof – to further govern major college football.

In fact, in an interview with The Athletic, Kliavkoff advocated for “conferences that should be more aligned and should be more in control of the future of high-level college football,” he told the outlet in a recent interview.

A source from a different of college athletics' Power 5 conferences reiterated to FootballScoop that the direction of "big-time college football remains the key topic. Nobody's sure where it's going, but there have to be changes," he said. He also discussed essentially a separate structure for top level of college football, but indicated he wasn't sure it could fully encompass all Football Bowls Subdivision program. 

Kliavkoff’s public comments aren’t wholly different from sentiments expressed earlier this year from the Southeastern Conference, which had indicated perhaps a willingness to conduct its own end-of-season playoffs after the College Football Playoff expansion – of which SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey had helped champion an expansion proposal last summer – was tabled through the term of the current deal.

But Kliavkoff’s comments arrive at a time when major college football is dealing with highly public and unprecedented issues – most noticeably in the form of Name, Image & Likeness monetization opportunities for student-athletes and the NCAA’s still-evolving Transfer Portal.

He says he has found strong support among college athletics’ power-brokers.

“I’ve had conversations with several of the FBS commissioners, and I’ve been surprised by the unanimous support for the idea among the folks that I’ve spoken to about taking football rule-making and rule enforcement out of the NCAA and investing it in an organization that is run by the 10 (Football Bowls Subdivision) conferences.”

Those leagues are comprised of Kliavkoff’s Pac-12, as well as the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big XII and SEC – college athletics’ Power 5, autonomous conferences; the other leagues include America Athletic Conference, Conference-USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and SunBelt.

“For me, it would make sense to have self-governance for a smaller group of conferences than the 32 that currently make up Division I (across all NCAA sports),” Kliavkoff said. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean being separate from the NCAA.

“You can do that within the NCAA, similar to the way certain autonomy was given to the (P-5) conferences for certain issues.”

The entirety of Kliavkoff’s comments can be found here at The Athletic (subscription required).