In a recent announcement, former BIG TEN commissioner Kevin Warren was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the NFL Charter franchise the Chicago Bears.
According to the Chicago Bears, Warren will oversee the general manager and business operations of the Club. He became the first Black President and CEO in Club history and the first President and CEO hired from outside the organization. Warren will begin official Club business in the spring of 2023.
Warren will succeed former Bears’ president Ted Phillips, who retired this season and had been in this role since February 10, 1999. Warren will be only the fifth person to serve as president of the 102-year-old franchise following George S. Halas, George “Mugs” Halas, Jr., Michael McCaskey and Phillips.
“I am honored and recognize the responsibility bestowed upon me to lead the Chicago Bears during this exciting and pivotal time for the franchise. I look forward to building on the rich tradition that started with George Halas and connecting with the unique fanbase in Chicago,” said Warren.
“I join the Chicago Bears with gratitude and drive to carry out and build upon the legacy and spirit of this founding franchise and my predecessors. This is a franchise that is respected in all of professional sports, and I am humbled to be selected as the next President and CEO of the Chicago Bears. I sincerely thank Virginia McCaskey, George McCaskey, the McCaskey family, Ted Phillips and the search team for the responsibility and trust placed in me to lead the Chicago Bears and deliver championships to Chicago.”
A veteran executive of 21 years in the NFL, Warren joins the Bears after spending the last three years as Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, which comprises 14 world class universities with over 10,000 student-athletes participating in 28 official conference sports.
Warren also served as the sixth commissioner in the 127-year history of the Conference. He is the first Black leader to serve as commissioner of any Power Five Conference. In his time with the Big Ten, Warren guided the Conference to an expansion of 16 schools beginning in 2024, adding the University of Southern California and the University of California Los Angeles, as well as leading the negotiation of an unprecedented media rights deal of over $1 billion annually.
“Kevin is going to be a tremendous resource, and I am excited to get started with him,” said General Manager Ryan Poles. “In my time spent with him during the interview process, it quickly became apparent that his resumé and business acumen will be a powerful asset to helping improve our organization and ultimately reach our goal to be a championship organization.”
Prior to his three years at the Big Ten Conference, Warren served as the Chief Operating Officer of the Minnesota Vikings (2015-2019). As COO, he oversaw all aspects of the business operations of the franchise. He joined the Vikings in 2005 and served in various senior leadership capacities for the team.
While in Minnesota, Warren played a critical role in all business, financial, legal and operational aspects related to U.S. Bank Stadium and was involved in the design, construction, business, legal and operational components of the stadium, which hosted Super Bowl LII.
He also played a key role in the design, development and planning of Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center, the Vikings Headquarters in Eagan, Minnesota, in addition to the ancillary real estate development of Viking Lakes. Under Warren’s leadership, the Vikings restructured the organization with an emphasis on promoting women to key executive positions.
Prior to working for the Vikings, he represented the Vikings’ current ownership group in their purchase of the team in 2005. In September 2013, Warren was named a member of the NFL Committee on Workplace Diversity.
Warren was Vice President of Player Programs & Football Legal Counsel for the St. Louis Rams (1997-1999) and a member of the Super Bowl XXXIV championship team, as well as the Vice President of Football Administration (2000) and Senior Vice President of Business Operations & General Counsel for the Detroit Lions (2001-2003).
For undergraduate studies, Warren attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, playing basketball for the Quakers’ 1981-82 Ivy League Championship team. Warren earned his undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Grand Canyon University in 1986 where he was a member of the basketball team and was inducted into the GCU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012. Following his graduation from Grand Canyon University, Warren attended Arizona State University where he earned his Master of Business Administration in 1988. He subsequently attended the University of Notre Dame Law School, where he earned his Juris Doctor in 1990.
“Kevin is a man of integrity, respect and excellence, all of which are critical core values of the Chicago Bears, and we welcome his perspective and diverse thought to lead this storied organization,” said Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey via the Chicago Bears. “He is a proven leader who has many times stepped outside of his comfort zone to challenge the status quo for unconventional growth and prosperity. In this role, Warren will serve in the primary leadership position of the franchise to help bring the next Super Bowl championship trophy home to Bears’ fans.”
One of the founding franchises of the National Football League, the Chicago Bears were established in 1920 as the Decatur Staleys by legendary player, coach and owner George S. Halas. The team moved to Chicago in 1921. In 1922, Halas changed the team’s name from the Staleys to the Bears, and the team has gone on to win nine NFL Championships, including one Super Bowl. The Bears’ 30 Hall-of-Famers are the most of any team in the NFL. A pillar in the community for more than a century, the Bears strive to be civic leaders throughout Chicago and its suburbs by supporting initiatives focused on social justice, youth and high school football, the military, health equity, education, volunteerism and civic involvement.
Joseph Phillips is the Sports Editor for the Chicago Crusader Newspaper. He is a Chicago native, who has been a sports writer for over 17 years. He also hosts the SC Media News and Sports Network Q&A radio show on WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago.