Big Ten taps Vikings’ Kevin Warren as new commissioner | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World Sports

Big Ten taps Vikings’ Kevin Warren as new commissioner

Associated Press
1250037_web1_AP19155625868761
AP
Minnesota Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren talks to reporters after being named Big Ten Conference Commissioner during a news conference Tuesday, June 4, 2019, in Rosemont, Ill.

ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Big Ten hired Minnesota Vikings executive Kevin Warren as its new commissioner Tuesday, bringing on a former college basketball player and sports agent with a law degree from Notre Dame to replace Jim Delany and become the first black commissioner of a Power Five conference.

The 55-year-old Warren has been the chief operating officer for the Vikings since 2015, the first African-American to hold that position for an NFL franchise.

“I’m ready for the challenge. I’m excited. I’m energized,” he said at his introductory news conference. “But most of all, I’m grateful.”

He will start Sept. 16 and work alongside Delany, who will step down Jan. 1 from the job he has held since 1989. The 71-year-old Delany announced his decision to step away earlier this year.

Warren grew up in Phoenix. He attended the University of Pennsylvania out of high school, but transferred to Grand Canyon University, where he scored 1,118 points. After earning an MBA from Arizona State and a law degree from Notre Dame, he worked as a sports agent throughout the 1990s. Warren has been working in the NFL for 20 years, doing stints with the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions before settling in with the Vikings in 2005.

He will take over a sprawling conference that stretches from Rutgers and Maryland to Nebraska.

Delany helped the Big Ten grow to 14 schools, launched the first athletic conference television network, BTN, and helped create the first College Football Playoff while maintaining the conference’s ties to the Rose Bowl. League revenues soared under his leadership. He negotiated TV deals worth billions that in 2018 produced $51 million for Michigan alone.

Despite the financial successes, the conference has lagged a bit at least when it comes to national championships in the highest profile sports. No Big Ten men’s basketball team has won it all since Michigan State in 2000, and the only football titles belong to Ohio State in 2002 and 2014. The Southeastern Conference has 11 football championships in that span.

The Big Ten was quiet in its hiring process,, using the search firm Korn Ferry. Conventional wisdom was the Big Ten would hire someone with current ties to the conference and college sports. The selection of Warren came as a surprise because he has neither.

Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf had nothing but praise for Warren.

“He has worked tirelessly to elevate the Vikings franchise, all with the greater good of the organization and Minneapolis-St. Paul in mind,” the Wilfs said in a statement. “From the very onset, Kevin helped us navigate and execute the purchase of the franchise. He then evolved as a leader of the organization in ways we never could have imagined, leading our vision for U.S. Bank Stadium and TCO Performance Center, developing a world-class fan experience and implementing many initiatives that have transformed our franchise with the benefit of our employees and Vikings fans top of mind.”

The Vikings said they would work with Warren and “how we want to move forward.”

Categories: Sports | US-World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.