By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer

Media from around the nation filled several rooms at the W Hotel in Hollywood for the annual PAC-12 football Media Day. 

There were many topics on the table to get to as we enter a somewhat post COVID era.  

We are not completely out of the woods as cases have risen in California and around the nation.  

It was new commissioner George Kliavkoff who took over in June had his first live barrage of media members.  

COVID-19 is a major problem throughout the college sports West Coast.   

“Through educational announcements and Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) we are advising everyone get vaccinated,” said Kliavkoff. “As a conference nine of our twelve schools are requiring all students to get vaccinated.”  

The conference has safety protocols in place that includes regular testing for student-athletes, also if someone is unvaccinated and who is vaccinated and is symptomatic.   

There’s a little over a month to the season’s first game, and according to the Conference two-thirds of the teams have had eighty percent of their players vaccinated. Those teams are above 90%. “We’re very proud of that,” added Kliavkoff.  

There have been rumbles on expansion including Texas and Oklahoma heading to the SEC. That would give them 16 teams and the ACC has 14 and the new Commissioner was ask, “How that would effect the Conference?” “It doesn’t, we’re still good with 12 teams. We are not looking to poach any team from any conference, but we would be foolish not to listen if someone called.”  

 Kliavkoff previously worked for MGM Resorts International as President of Entertainment and Sports. He was responsible for booking finance and marketing. That included more than 30 showrooms and theaters and event centers. MGM resorts is one of the largest resort centers in the world.   

Kliavkoff will use all the resource’s that will help football and the conference be more visible around the country.  He’ll be assisted by Merton Hanks the head of Football Operations for the Conference.  

Hanks was a fifth-round draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers who was named to the Pro-Bowl four times and has a Super Bowl ring.  He’s previously spent time working on Conference USA and was VP of operations for the NFL.  

Hanks heads a group that includes conference coaches and AD’s. “It’s goal,” said Kliakoff. “Is to recommend changes that will optimize the football program for CFP invitations and winning championships.” The group will send recommendations to the Commissioner and board members to be analyzed.    

There is already a group in place that did the same for basketball that would increase NCAA tourney invitations.  

This season the PAC-12 will play 83% of it game against Power 5 schools that includes non-conference games against Notre Dame, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan and Texas A&M.   

Shonna Brown is a newcomer to the PAC-12 staff. She is Associate Commissioner. The Southern Miss grad has worked in Conference USA and The American East and has spent time in the Miami Dolphins organization. Kliavkoff was excited to have her on board. “Her experience and knowledge will be invaluable.”  

Shonna Brown is a newcomer to the PAC-12 office. The Southern Miss grad has spent time with the Miami Dolphins and Conference USA. (Photo: Earl Heath)

One of the latest entry’s to come in college sports where the NIL student-athlete can get paid for his likeness. that will bring alot of finance and influence into a young person’s life.  

“The PAC-12 Network will be launching a new licensing program to provide the student- athlete highlights and content to any company that working with any of our PAC-12 student athletes in connection with NIL. “ 

 Kliavkoff also acknowledged the loss of former Bruin Head coach Terry Donohue who passed away in in June.  

Donohue was the winningest coach in PAC-12 history.