Culture

Washington State president Kirk Schulz: Q&A on the Kliavkoff hire and direction of the Pac-12


On May 13, 2021, George Kliavkoff was appointed the seventh commissioner of the Pac-12 Conference.

To mark the one-year anniversary and gain insight into Kliavkoff’s performance, the Hotline reached out to three university presidents who helped lead the hiring process: Oregon’s Michael Schill, Washington’s Ana Mari Cauce and Washington State’s Kirk Schulz. (Together, they form the Pac-12 executive committee, with Schill serving as chair.)

All three agreed to discuss Kliavkoff’s management style, accomplishments and challenges. Cauce answered questions via email while Schill and Schulz spoke with the Hotline.

Here are Schulz’s comments.

— How would you assess Kliavkoff’s performance since his tenure began on July 1?

“He has exceeded expectations. I thought he would be a great listener and suggest new ideas, but I’m impressed by how quickly he has developed into a national leader on issues like name, image and likeness (NIL) and the alliance (with the Big Ten and ACC) and in talking to our media partners.

“The board didn’t lay all this out; he just did it. Not only has he done okay, but I’d argue that he has become a leader after what I would say were four or five years of stagnation.

“A great example is the alliance. George got on a plane and said, ‘Let’s talk this through.’ He’s action-oriented instead of just bemoaning the situation.”

— One of Kliavkoff’s goals was to rebuild trust between the conference office and the campuses. Has he made progress?

“George shows up at the campuses, all of them, and he’s there for a couple days. Nobody goes, ‘He doesn’t look like he wants to be in Pullman’ — or Corvallis or Phoenix or wherever. You hear that from the student-athletes, too. He really engages with them.

“He doesn’t come in with a lot of excuses. He showed up and listened and got a real sense for what the campus was like. Maybe it’s just Management 101, but that hasn’t been present for a while.

“He talks to people, and afterward you feel energized and optimistic. You don’t think it was a waste of time. After he has meetings on campus, I don’t have to do a lot of relationship rebuilding.”

— Has Kliavkoff exhibited a character trait over the past 10-and-a-half months that wasn’t readily apparent during the hiring process?

“I have gotten a real sense for his pragmatism. It’s really refreshing when he talks about the issues. He just lays it out and says, ’Here’s where it stands.’”

— Have there been successes that help the conference support its members but are out of view of the fans and media?

“He has a talented staff at the conference office that I don’t think has been properly utilized. People thought with the (commissioner) change that we would hemorrhage staff members.

“But he has kept key people and turned around the morale. He has them looking ahead, not back. And when you get talented people moving in the same direction, it’s amazing what they can do.”

— Kliavkoff told the Hotline in January that he planned to have an ongoing dialogue with …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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