Pac-12’s Kliavkoff jabs Big 12, touts future after USC, UCLA

LOS ANGELES — Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff said his conference is far from finished, despite the defections of Southern California and UCLA.

Kliavkoff confirmed the Pac-12 is actively exploring expansion and lobbed several feisty jabs at the Big 12 during an eventful opening speech at his conference’s media day Friday — likely its last in the nation’s second-largest media market.

While painting a promising picture of the league’s future even after USC and UCLA leave for the Big Ten in 2024, Kliavkoff said the Pac-12 intends to keep its current members while entertaining new additions.

The commissioner also acknowledged frustration with the upheaval created by the defections, saying he had spent the past month “trying to defend against grenades being lobbed in from every corner of the Big 12 trying to destabilize our conference.”

Kliavkoff responded to Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark’s recent declaration that his league was “open for business” in expansion by suggesting that those moves could include Big 12 schools coming his way, instead of the opposite assumption.

“With respect to the Big 12 being open for business, I appreciate that,” Kliavkoff said. “We haven’t decided whether we’re going shopping there or not.”

The Pac-12 has lost its Los Angeles flagships after nearly a century of history, and Kliavkoff acknowledged the widespread speculation about the long-term health of his comparatively underfunded West Coast conference. The commissioner insisted the Pac-12 will have a stronger base after its new media rights deal, and that footing could lead to expansion.

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