Monday, March 27, 2023 Mar 27, 2023
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The SMU-to-the-Pac-12 Talk Is Beginning to Feel Very Real

It’s not every day you see the commissioner of a major conference hanging out a non-member school's basketball game.
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Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff made quite the splash on The Hilltop last night. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret that SMU has been searching for an avenue to move into the Power Five conferences for a while. Far less obvious was whether they’d find one after the Big 12 passed on adding the Mustangs in its last expansion round. Former commissioner Bob Bowlsby even told StrongSide in 2021 that while he had “great respect for SMU,” the four programs the conference added—Houston, BYU, UCF, and Cincinnati—“were the ones that bring the highest top end and the most value,” to which I’d reply that Bob clearly hasn’t spent much time in Provo, Orlando, or *shudders*.

Nevertheless, a lifeline finally appears to be on the way via the embattled Pac-12, which will be down to 10 member schools once USC and UCLA depart the conference for the Big Ten in 2024. Recent scuttlebutt has SMU and San Diego State positioned as commissioner George Kliavkoff’s top targets, and while the latter is a pretty obvious fit for a West Coast conference, SMU makes plenty of sense, too, between the Dallas media market plus the trend of California being the second-most represented state in the university’s student body.  

So you’ll be well within your rights to take the following picture as a pretty good indication of where the wind is blowing:

The Morning News’ Joseph Hoyt later confirmed via a source that this was indeed Kliavkoff, which makes this whole thing feel like the lamest possible cloak-and-dagger celebrity appearance.

Unless you’re an SMU fan or alum, of course. In that case, you can and should be hopeful that the post-Southwest Conference days of competing just outside the elite of college athletics may soon be coming to an end.


Mike Piellucci

Mike Piellucci

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Mike Piellucci is D Magazine's sports editor. He is a former staffer at The Athletic and VICE, and his freelance…

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