Big Ten Hires Vikings COO Kevin Warren As Next Commissioner
The Big Ten this morning officially announced Vikings COO Kevin Warren as its next commissioner, replacing Jim Delany, who will retire in '20 after 30 years. Warren will officially begin his role on Sept. 16, while Delany will remain in a transition period through Jan. 1, 2020 (Big Ten). ESPN.com's Schefter & Schlabach note Warren becomes the first African-American commissioner of a Power Five conference. The Big Ten's presidents and chancellors held their annual meeting Sunday, and it is "believed that they approved the hiring of Delany's successor." Warren has spent 21 seasons working in the NFL, including the past 14 with the Vikings. He is the "highest-ranking black executive working on the business side of an NFL franchise" (ESPN.com, 6/4). In Minneapolis, Miller & Goessling notes Warren played a "key role" in the construction of U.S. Bank Stadium and the Vikings’ TCO Performance Center. He is also known for his "charity work in and around the Twin Cities." The Big Ten used Korn Ferry to "search for Delany’s replacement, a search headed by Northwestern President Morton Schapiro" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/4). Warren was a member of this year's SBJ class of Champions: Pioneers & Innovators in Sports Business (THE DAILY).
TWITTER REAX: Before Warren's hire was made official, it was getting wide praise on Twitter. NFL Network's Steve Wyche wrote, "Kevin Warren is a brilliant and great man. Wow. If this happens the Vikings and the NFL are losing out on a tremendous leader. Wow. Wow. Wow." The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Jim Souhan: "If the Big Ten is hiring Kevin Warren the Big Ten is in great hands. One of the most impressive people I’ve met." The Action Network's Darren Rovell: "Shocked that the Big Ten is going with an outsider for commissioner, but Kevin Warren is extremely impressive and so well respected in NFL circles."
BIT OF A SURPRISE: In Newark, James Kratch writes Warren is a "surprise pick for the Big Ten, as most speculation centered around" Northwestern AD Jim Phillips or "other candidates with conference or college sports connections." While Warren "lives inside the conference footprint, he has no apparent ties to the league beyond assisting Minnesota in its search process to hire" current AD Mark Coyle (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 6/4). In Chicago, Teddy Greenstein notes Warren’s name "didn’t publicly surface" until yesterday. Most industry observers "viewed Phillips as the favorite." The fact that Schapiro led the search "made for an interesting dynamic, considering Schapiro is one of Phillips’ best friends" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/4).