Thank you, Diane (Dietz).
I am very pleased to be here this morning, representing my fellow members of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors, to make a major announcement about the future of the leadership of the Big Ten Conference.
Honoring the service of Jim Delany
As many of you know, earlier this year, Jim Delany, who has served with enormous distinction as commissioner of the Big Ten for the last 30 years, announced his intention to step down. Jim is only the fifth person to have served as commissioner of the storied Big Ten Conference since its founding in 1896.
Among his numerous outstanding accomplishments as commissioner, Jim oversaw the expansion of the conference to its present 14 schools, with the addition of Penn State, Nebraska, Maryland, and Rutgers universities.
Jim's superb leadership also resulted in the successful negotiation of media-rights agreements with the ABC, ESPN, Fox, and CBS television networks that have greatly benefitted all of the conference schools and their student athletes, and it resulted in the establishment of the highly successful Big Ten Network, which was only the second sports network in the nation dedicated to covering a single college sports conference. Under Jim's guidance, the Big Ten has also been a national leader in providing opportunities for students to earn a degree while competing in intercollegiate athletics and in supporting gender equality.
He will be rightly and widely honored over the coming months, but on behalf of all of my fellow Big Ten presidents and chancellors, I want to take this opportunity to express our most sincere and grateful thanks to Jim for his outstanding service to the Big Ten Conference and more broadly to intercollegiate athletics over 30 years.
The search for the next Big Ten commissioner
An executive search committee, comprising a number of Big Ten presidents and chancellors, has conducted an exhaustive national search, with valuable input from across the conference. Our goal was to identify a strategic, thoughtful, and visionary leader with the ability to continue and build upon the traditions of excellence that have become synonymous with the Big Ten Conference.
So, I am extremely pleased to announce today that the committee has identified just such a leader. He is a person with extensive experience across many dimensions of athletics, and will begin his service as commissioner on September 16, 2019 to take full advantage of a transition period working alongside Commissioner Delany, who will officially step down on January 1, 2020.
Announcing the sixth commissioner of the Big Ten Conference
I am delighted then to announce that the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors has enthusiastically selected as the Big Ten's sixth commissioner, Kevin Warren, who currently serves as the chief operating officer for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League. I am delighted that he is with us today, along with his wife, Greta, and their daughter, Peri.
Mr. Warren earned his law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School, his MBA from Arizona State University, and his undergraduate degree from Grand Canyon University in Arizona, where he excelled in the classroom and as a basketball player, becoming just the fifth basketball player to be inducted into Grand Canyon University's Athletics Hall of Fame. Early in his career, Mr. Warren worked as a sports and entertainment attorney and agent, representing various professional athletes, entertainers, and broadcasters.
Before joining the Vikings, he also worked for the international law firm of Greenberg Traurig, where he played playing a critical leadership role with the Wilf Ownership Group during their acquisition of the Vikings. In addition, he spent two seasons with the Detroit Lions as Senior Vice President of Business Operations and General Counsel, and four seasons with the St. Louis Rams as Vice President of Football Administration and Vice President of Player Programs and Legal Counsel.
He is now in his twenty-first year with the NFL, and his fourteenth year with the Vikings. During Mr. Warren's time with the Vikings, the organization built a new $1.1 billion stadium on time and on budget—the largest construction project in the history of the State of Minnesota. At the same time, the Vikings went from being in the bottom five in league revenue to being firmly in the top quarter of the NFL in overall revenue.
In 2013, his reputation and NFL experience were recognized when he was named a member of the NFL Committee on Workplace Diversity, on which he has continued to serve. In 2017, during Super Bowl LI festivities in Houston, he was honored with the Texas Southern University Pioneer Award, in recognition of his ground-breaking role as an NFL executive and his commitment to championing diversity.
All of us on the selection committee were greatly impressed by Mr. Warren's indefatigable work ethic, his abilities as a communicator, and his knowledge and passion. Over a remarkable and pioneering career, he has developed a reputation among his peers and colleagues as an individual of enormous character and integrity. And throughout his impressive professional career, he has dedicated himself to empowering young people, promoting diversity and inclusion, and to championing the positive impact athletics can have on improving people's lives and our society.
So, please join me in welcoming the next commissioner of the Big Ten Athletic Conference, Kevin Warren.