The Big Ten made history Tuesday when it introduced Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren as its new commissioner, making him the first African American to hold that position for the NCAA’s oldest Division I conference.
Warren, 55, will succeed Jim Delany, who has been the Big Ten commissioner since 1989 but has announced he will step down at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.
“To have an opportunity to lead the Big Ten Conference, and follow in the shoes of Jim Delany is truly an honor,” Warren said at an introductory news conference at conference headquarters in Rosemont, Illinois, near Chicago.
“To have an opportunity to lead the Big Ten Conference, and follow in the shoes of Jim Delany is truly an honor.”
– Kevin Warren
– Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork)
Warren, who has been with the Vikings for 20 years, the past four as COO, will be only the sixth commissioner since the Big Ten was founded in 1896 and also the first African American to lead a Power 5 conference.
The Sun Belt Conference in March hired former Atlantic 10 executive associate commissioner Keith Gill, who became the first black commissioner of an FBS conference.
In Warren’s time with the NFL’s Vikings, he played a key role in the development of the $1.1 billion U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened in 2016 and was the site of Super Bowl 52 in February 2018.
He will take over a conference that by almost any measure is incredibly successful. The Big Ten set a revenue record in 2018 at $759 million that shattered its previous mark with a 48 percent jump. The figure – driven largely by new TV agreements that took effect at the start of the 2017-18 school year – also exceeded the previous revenue record set by the SEC by almost $100 million.
The conference paid out some $54 million each to 12 of its 14 member schools (Maryland and Rutgers, as newer members, received smaller revenue-share amounts).