Big Ten tabs Minnesota Vikings COO Warren as new commissioner

Kevin Warren (photo: Big Ten Conference)
Kevin Warren will start his tenure as Big Ten commissioner in September (photo: Big Ten Conference).

The Big Ten announced Tuesday that Kevin Warren has been named the sixth commissioner of the conference.

He will start on Sept. 16, 2019, to take full advantage of an opportunity to transition alongside current commissioner Jim Delany, who will officially step down on Jan. 1, 2020, following a 30-year career with the conference.

Warren, a native of Tempe, Ariz., has been the chief operating officer for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings since 2005. He is the highest-ranking African-American executive working on the business side for a team in the NFL and is the first African-American COO in NFL history.

“Kevin is a visionary leader, an experienced, successful and highly respected executive, and a skilled communicator who is uniquely positioned to continue the traditions of excellence that have become synonymous with the Big Ten Conference,” said Michael A. McRobbie, president of Indiana University and chair of the executive search committee. “Over a remarkable and pioneering career, he has developed a reputation among his peers and colleagues as an individual of enormous character, integrity, knowledge and passion, who has dedicated the majority of his professional career to the empowerment of young people and the positive impact athletics can have on improving lives and our society.”

“I am absolutely honored to become the sixth commissioner of the Big Ten, a conference with such rich history, tradition, and respect,” added Warren. “The opportunity is an incredible and unique blend of my lifelong passion, commitment and experience. Positively impacting the lives of young adults has always been part of the fabric of my family and I will work tirelessly with our member schools to ensure that we are providing every possible best in class resource to enhance our students’ educational and athletic experience, as well as empower them for success upon graduation. Jim Delany, our presidents, chancellors, athletic administrators, and coaches have created an extremely strong culture and foundation from which to build.

“I am very grateful to work alongside Jim as I transition into my role and work to hold true the respected values of the Big Ten, as we propel our conference into the future.”

Prior to joining the Vikings, Warren worked for the international law firm of Greenberg Traurig from 2003 to 2005, playing a critical leadership role with the Wilf Ownership Group deal team during the acquisition of the Minnesota Vikings. Additionally, he spent two seasons (2001-03) with the Detroit Lions as senior VP of business operations and general counsel and four seasons (1997-2001) with the St. Louis Rams as VP of football administration, and VP of player programs and legal counsel. Warren was an integral part of the Rams organization when they won Super Bowl XXXIV over the Tennessee Titans in Jan. 2000.

Warren graduated from Notre Dame Law School. He worked at a law firm with Mike Slive and Mike Glazier specializing in representation of universities charged with NCAA violations. He also later worked as a sports and entertainment attorney/agent representing various professional athletes, entertainers and broadcasters as the founder of Kevin Warren and Associates.

As a freshman on the Pennsylvania basketball team, Warren was a member of the Quakers’ Ivy League championship team in 1982. He completed his college education at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, earning his undergraduate degree.