Washington State president recalls Pac-12's tumultuous days, questions George Kliavkoff's leadership
Washington State President Kirk Schulz has admitted that his school’s athletics program is in “a bad spot” as it faces a harsh new reality in the wake of the Pac-12’s defections last week.
Schulz said in an interview with ESPN’s Pete Thamel that the school is considering all options and “irons in the fire,” and that he’s noted “anger” from the fan base. Athletics Director Pat Chun and Schulz plan to engage with the athletes on campus.
Schultz was previously the president at Kansas State, but said nothing compares to Friday’s moves in the Pac-12 and beyond.
“I don’t ever remember a single day unfolding that was so dramatic in changing the landscape,” he said. “College athletics is at its worst with this realignment stuff. Everyone is truly looking out for themselves. What it also does is changes behavior and people stop being honest with each other.”
The cold reality, however, is Washington State faces a series of budget challenges, but Schulz made it clear that, regardless of conference or affiliation, Washington State will continue to “invest” like a Power 5 program. He also said Washington State will not cut sports, even facing a very real budget crunch that he estimated would represent 40% of the school’s athletic revenue disappearing. (The school already faces a budget deficit of more than $11 million and he said that utilizing a student fee, which is low at the school, may be one way to help raise money for athletics.)
While George Kliavkoff’s future as Pac-12 commissioner has already been discussed — and asked whether he would resign — Schulz said it’s unknown whether Kliavkoff would be a part of the Pac-12 future, especially if Cal and Stanford are a part of it with Oregon State.
While it’s considered a “secondary issue” Schulz admitted, “if we choose to rebuild a conference around those 4 schools, is George that guy? All of that then becomes a forefront issue instead of a secondary issue.”