The Chicago Bears named Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren as their next president and CEO Thursday.
Warren was one of the Bears’ top candidates to fill the role after longtime exec Ted Phillips announced in September he would retire after this season. The Bears secured the league’s No. 1 overall pick after finishing 3-14.
Warren is the fifth president in Bears history but will be the first from outside the organization. He’s also the first Black president in franchise history after serving as the first Black commissioner in the Big Ten.
“I am honored and recognize the responsibility bestowed upon me to lead the Chicago Bears during this exciting and pivotal time for the franchise,” Warren said in a statement via The Associated Press. “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.”
Chairman George McCaskey added: “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.”
The Bears conducted an interview just before the new year, and Warren’s history in the NFL made him a strong replacement.
Warren spent 15 years with the Minnesota Vikings in various executive roles prior to jumping to college football to lead the Big Ten in June 2019. He also served as the Los Angeles Rams‘ vice president of football administration while the team was in St. Louis.
Overall, Warren brings 20 years of NFL front office experience to the table for a franchise in need of new diredction.
Other than owning the first overall pick — many believe Chicago will shop it around given the emergence of Justin Fields at quarterback — Warren will be dealing with the Bears’ stadium situation.
The Bears could construct a new, fully enclosed stadium if they are able to finalize their purchase of land in Arlington Heights. It’s an intriguing decision to make considering fans have been vocal about renovating Solider Field instead of building a new stadium.
Warren played a pivotal role in the construction of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, home of the Vikings since 2016.
In terms of player personnel, Warren will work closely with GM Ryan Poles, who shoulders the burden of bringing a better roster to the team next season.
“In my time spent with him during the interview process, it quickly became apparent his resume and business acumen will be a powerful asset to helping improve our organization and ultimately reach our goal to be a championship organization,” Poles said of Warren.
Other than the Bears, Warren was reportedly a popular man among teams looking for front office help. The Denver Broncos, Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves all contacted him, according to the AP.
Warren was hired as Big Ten commissioner to replace the retiring Jim Delany. One of Warren’s final major moves was announcing that USC and UCLA would be joining the conference in 2024. The conference also landed $7 billion in media rights deals with FOX, CBS and NBC to share football and basketball games.