It has been a bit of a roller coaster for Kevin Warren as commissioner of the Big Ten and the conference will now be looking for a new leader.
Warren is “expected” to return to the NFL and takeover as President and CEO of the Chicago Bears, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Warren spent 21 years in the NFL as an executive and agent. He made waves as the chief operating officer of the Minnesota Vikings. During his tenure, he helped during the production of U.S. Bank Stadium. The Bears are interested in new construction as well with the franchise purchasing 326 acres of land in Arlington Heights.
Sources: The #Bears are expected to name Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren as their new president and CEO. A major hire for the organization and for Warren, who spent time in the NFL prior to college football as a top executive for the #Vikings.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 12, 2023
In December, Pete Thamel of ESPN initially reported that the Bears were interested in Warren but the commissioner voided the topic. He was asked directly about the position and did not reveal any information. Warren claimed he “regularly receives unique opportunities and requests for his expertise from leaders across a variety of industries.”
Warren was named commissioner of the Big Ten in June of 2019, becoming the first African American to takeover this role of a Power Five conference. During his three and a half year tenure, there was plenty of ups and downs — and growth for the conference as a whole.
In 2020, Warren received criticism for cancelling the Big Ten football season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. After plenty of backlash on the decision, Warren would eventually return football for the fall in a conference-only format. In recent years, he has focused on expanding the conference and that is exactly what he did.
The Big Ten has added USC and UCLA, which led to a massive media rights deal of over $7 billion. The teams out West are expected to join the conference following the 2023 season, which is when the current media rights deal expires. Warren added teams from Los Angeles to hit the biggest markets in the country, along with New York/New Jersey and Chicago. Even after committing to USC and UCLA, Warren has expressed interest in getting the Big Ten up to 20 teams from 16.
With Warren leaving for the NFL, the Big Ten will now look for a new commissioner as we enter important years for the conference. This will be a desirably job for anyone who is interested.