Big Ten names NFL exec as next commissioner, Phillips to remain in Evanston


Peter Warren/Daily Senior Staffer

Kevin Warren speaks at a press conference Tuesday. The Minnesota Vikings COO was named the sixth commissioner in the history of the Big Ten.

Ella Brockway, Sports Editor

ROSEMONT — Minnesota Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren was named the next commissioner of the Big Ten at a Tuesday news conference.

Warren, who has more than 20 years of experience working as an executive in the NFL, will take over as the conference’s sixth-ever commissioner when current leader Jim Delany steps down in 2020. He will become the Power Five’s first African-American chief executive.

“To have an opportunity to lead the Big Ten Conference, and follow in the shoes of Jim Delany is a true honor,” Warren said. “When you have an iconic leader like Jim Delany, the worst thing you can do is try and tear down what he’s built and what this staff has built … I’m looking forward to taking everything that this conference stands for and doing what I can to make it better.”

Tuesday’s news also confirmed that after long speculation, Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips will be staying in Evanston. Phillips had been seen by many in the industry as a favorite to succeed Delany — University President Morton Schapiro headed the committee tasked with finding the conference’s next leader.

The selection came as a surprise to many in the world of college athletics. Warren was not featured in a Sports Business Journal report in April that listed nine probably candidates to take over the position, and he has a limited background in the business of college athletics.

Warren played college basketball at Penn and Grand Canyon, and said Tuesday that his experience as the son of, the father of and a student-athlete himself would benefit him in this new position. He worked for the St. Louis Rams and the Detroit Lions in executive positions before he joined the Vikings in 2005 as a chief administrative officer.

In 2015, he was promoted to the position of chief operating officer for the Vikings, in which he oversaw the development of Minnesota’s $1.1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium and its awarding of Super Bowl LII.

Warren will become the Big Ten commissioner on Sept. 16, and Delany will officially step down on Jan. 1, 2020.

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