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Daily Brews: Kevin Warren left the Big Ten in a bind

The former Big Ten Commissioner has left the new commissioner —Tony Petitti — scrambling to finish everything Warren started.

2022 Big Ten Conference Football Media Days Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Remember the Big Ten’s lucrative television deal announced last August? The disclosed terms stated the media rights deal was negotiated for seven years, $7 billion and the Big Ten would air games across NBC, CBS and Fox. The deal is supposed to begin July 1, 2023, but according to an ESPN report from Pete Thamel, the deal is STILL yet to be finalized.

Former Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren was the architect behind the deal, but he left his position to join the Chicago Bears as CEO/President back in March. New commissioner Tony Petitti is now scrambling to finalize and save the deal.

The report states:

“Nearly three months before the season kicks off and those TV deals begin, the Big Ten does not have completed longform contracts, which include the fine print details. Instead, Petitti is engaged in significant “horse trading,” according to multiple sources, to get the NBC primetime deal finished and figure out what the network calls “outstanding issues” in order to uphold as much value as possible.

“These deals aren’t done, and they aren’t what they were represented to be from the standpoint of the NBC deal and the availability of all members to participate in November games in primetime,” said an industry source.”

To expand on that last point, it appears Warren gave the green light for NBC to air primetime games despite the fact that Big Ten programs have historically not been forced to play games at night during the last month of the season. Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel provided a quote in the ESPN article to provide some commentary.

“NBC was surprised, and I was surprised,” Manuel said. “We had not discussed, and I had not discussed with anyone in the league to change the tolerances we had agreed upon years ago.”

The uncertainty surrounding the deal obviously has a laundry list of concerned parties. Thamel concluded his reporting with: “As a result, there’s a trail of unhappy athletic directors seeing money disappearing from their bottom line, frustrated television executives and big-name coaches irked about the lack of transparency in details that weren’t communicated to them.”

Can Petitti sort through the mess Warren left behind, or is the Big Ten set to lose potentially billions of dollars in revenue?