Pac-12 Commissioner Keeps It Professional, but Pointed, After Defections

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An indication of Kliavkoff’s feistiness came when he was asked at a news conference about Brett Yormark, the newly hired Big 12 Commissioner, who remarked recently that his conference — which has tried to poach Pac-12 schools — is “open for business.”

“I appreciate that,” Kliavkoff said. “We haven’t decided if we’re going shopping there or not.”

Just as the departures of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC set off speculation and panic that the remaining Big 12 schools had to jump while they had the chance, a similar wave was set off this summer across the Pac-12. The next big domino will be whether Notre Dame, which for decades has clung to its independence in football, goes to the Big Ten, which then could pursue schools like Washington and Oregon, or perhaps Stanford and Cal.

Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens said geography was no longer the factor it used to be.

“Is it ideal from an academic standpoint? No,” he said. “Is it a new world order? Maybe.”

(U.C.L.A. Coach Chip Kelly, responding to a question from a French Canadian reporter, quipped, “We’re expanding, but we’re not going to Quebec.”)

In the immediate aftermath of the Los Angeles schools’ announcement, the remaining Pac-12 presidents, chancellors and athletic directors have met at least twice a week. The caucuses began feverishly — “people saying irrational things, doing irrational things, acting scared understandably,” Kliavkoff said — but have become more candid and frank, he and two athletic directors said.

“Here’s what’s important: We need enough money from media rights and other deals to compete at a national level,” he said, estimating that the Los Angeles schools accounted for 25 to 30 percent of the Pac-12’s media-rights value. “That doesn’t mean we need Big Ten money. What they need is enough to compete at a very high level.”

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