June 04, 2019 10:30 PM
Minnesota Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren was introduced as the next commissioner of the Big Ten Conference at a news conference Tuesday morning.
Warren will start his new job in September of this year.
Current Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany announced in March that he plans to retire in 2020. At Tuesday's news conference, it was announced that Delany will officially retire on Jan. 1, 2020, allowing he and Warren a several-month transition period in which to work side-by-side.
The 55-year-old becomes the first African-American commissioner of a Power 5 Conference.
"I'm speechless," Warren said at the news conference broadcast on the Big Ten Network. "To have the opportunity to lead the Big Ten, and to follow in the footsteps of Jim Delany, is truly an honor.
"It will definitely be a challenge. But my entire life has been about overcoming challenges."
Warren went on to describe how he recovered from being hit by a car at age 11, using the money obtained in a settlement to build a pool in his backyard to aid in his rehabilitation process.
"I swam and worked out so much in that pool that six years later, I was able to lace up a pair of red Nikes and walk on the court at the Palaestra in Philadelphia as a Division I college athlete," he said.
Warren was named COO of the Vikings in February, 2015.
The 2018 season marked his 14th with the Vikings organization, and his 20th in the NFL overall.
Warren thanked the Vikings organization, especially owners Zygi and Mark Wilf.
"There are great people up there and it's really been special to spend the last 15 years of my life with them," he said.
The Wilfs issued a statement wishing Warren well:
"Kevin has impacted the Vikings and our family in immeasurable ways over the last 15 years," it read. "He has worked tirelessly to elevate the Vikings franchise, all with the greater good of the organization and Minneapolis-St. Paul in mind.
"From the very onset, Kevin helped us navigate and execute the purchase of the franchise. He then evolved as a leader of the organization in ways we never could have imagined, leading our vision for U.S. Bank Stadium and TCO Performance Center, developing a world-class fan experience, and implementing many initiatives that have transformed our franchise with the benefit of our employees and Vikings fans top of mind.
"Kevin has been a tremendous leader for the Vikings and he and his family have been passionately and intricately involved in the community, enhancing the lives of so many people. We know the Big Ten and their student-athletes, coaches, and administrators are extremely fortunate to have his leadership, character, and vision, and we wish Kevin and the Warren family all the best. We will work with Kevin and the Vikings management team over the next three months to help us through this transition and process how we want to move forward."
University of Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle praised the hire.
"Kevin Warren is a terrific hire for the Big Ten, and I have no doubt that he will provide visionary leadership for the conference," a statement read. "I have been able to spend time with him since returning to Minnesota and greatly appreciate his friendship and guidance.
"He is a strong relationship builder, a forward-thinker and has helped establish one of the strongest brands in the NFL in the Minnesota Vikings. I know he will always have the best interest of our student-athletes and fans in mind, and I look forward to working with him and watching him succeed."
For the past seven years, Warren and his wife have donated backpacks with school supplies to more than 900 students at Lucy Craft Laney Elementary in north Minneapolis.
"I absolutely am excited for him, proud of him and greatly respect the legacy he's leaving here," Principal Mauri Friestleben said
Updated: June 04, 2019 10:30 PM
Created: June 04, 2019 09:41 AM
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