The Big Ten has a new commissioner, and he was formally introduced on Tuesday.
After thirty years of Jim Delany as commish, Minnesota Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren will be the new man in charge. Warren will grab the reigns in September, and Delaney’s last day on the job will be on January 1st, 2020.
“I am absolutely honored to become the sixth commissioner of the Big Ten, a conference with such rich history, tradition, and respect. The opportunity is an incredible and unique blend of my lifelong passion, commitment and experience,” Warren said in a statement. “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.”
During Warren’s introductory press conference he touched on how he got to where he is today. He shared an emotional story about being hit by a car when he was eleven years old and the doctor telling him his chances of walking again and playing sports wasn’t good. The doctor told him his best chance to walk would be to swim a lot. Warren used part of his settlement money to put a pool in his back yard. Warren overcame the odds and walked again, ultimately becoming a college hoops standout and Pennsylvania and Grand Canyon University.
Kevin Warren was hit by a car as an 11-year-old, and the doctor said his outlook was not good.— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) June 4, 2019
Warren asked the doctor what would help him. The doctor's answer? Swim.
Warren paid for a pool in his backyard, practically lived in it, and uses the experience as motivation. pic.twitter.com/CACNY90J59
Warren talked about the people who helped him get to where he is today, including former St Louis Rams coach Dick Vermeil, who Warren called a second father. Warren worked with the Rams in a legal capacity, where he earned a Super Bowl ring as part of the organization.
At Warren’s presser when he was asked about potential college football playoff expansion and student athlete compensation, he said he looked forward to having discussions about those topics at a later time. There’s still a learning curve for Warren, and he’s still not finished working for the Vikings, so it should come as no surprise he is taking his time to come up with conclusions about the most pressing issues in collegiate athletics
“That’s a big topic I’ve thought about and I’ll say this, at the appropriate time when we can have some time to sit down I would love to share my thoughts with you and talk in the details about it,” Warren said about player compensation. “This is a great time in college athletics and there are many issues, that being one of them, that we need to address.”
Warren becomes the first black Power-5 commissioner and will usher in a new era of Big Ten athletics. “It is definitely not lost on me, the history associated with this,” Warren said. “I have some key pictures on my wall that I look at every single day thanks to my wife. I have a picture of Curt Flood, who was an African American pioneer in baseball and who really stood up for free agency. I have a picture right in front of my desk of Jackie Robinson. I have a picture of Dr. King. I have a picture of the 1966 Texas Western basketball team, the first time five black student athletes won a national title when they beat Kentucky.”