Chicago Bears eyeing Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren for team president job: report

A commissioner within the college football ranks has emerged as a top candidate in the Chicago Bears search for their next head of football operations.

Former NFL executive and current Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren is a finalist for the president/CEO position with the Bears, according to a report from ESPN.

The franchise began a search for a new president after longtime executive Ted Phillips announced in September that he intends to retire at the end of this season.

The Bears have already conducted an interview with Warren and he is considered a “strong candidate,” the report mentioned.

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FILE - In this March 12, 2020, file photo, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren addresses the media in Indianapolis after it was announced that the remainder of the Big Ten Conference men's basketball tournament had been canceled. Warren, the first black commissioner of a Power Five conference, is creating a coalition to give the league's athletes a platform to voice their concerns about racism. Warren announced Monday, June 1, 2020, the formation of the Big Ten Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition, with athletes, coaches, athletic director and university chancellors and presidents.

FILE – In this March 12, 2020, file photo, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren addresses the media in Indianapolis after it was announced that the remainder of the Big Ten Conference men’s basketball tournament had been canceled. Warren, the first black commissioner of a Power Five conference, is creating a coalition to give the league’s athletes a platform to voice their concerns about racism. Warren announced Monday, June 1, 2020, the formation of the Big Ten Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition, with athletes, coaches, athletic director and university chancellors and presidents.
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

Warren was named commissioner of the Big Ten in June 2019. He previously spent 15 years with the Minnesota Vikings, working in various executive roles during his tenure.

He also served as the Rams vice president of football administration, when the franchise was based in St. Louis. 

He has a total of 20 years of experience at the professional football level.

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Warren replaced former Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany shortly after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Warren did not have a particularly smooth transition into the commissioner’s role, as he faced criticism early on due in large part of his handling of the pandemic.

The Big Ten opted to cancel the entire football season in 2020, before reversing the decision a short time later.

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren talks to reporters during an NCAA college football news conference at the Big Ten Conference media days, at Lucas Oil Stadium, Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in Indianapolis. 

Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren talks to reporters during an NCAA college football news conference at the Big Ten Conference media days, at Lucas Oil Stadium, Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in Indianapolis. 
(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

But this year, the conference expanded to add the USC Trojans and the UCLA Bruins under Warren’s leadership.

The Big Ten currently has two teams representing the conference in the College Football Playoff. The second-ranked Michigan Wolverines are in Atlanta for a rematch of last year’s semifinal against No. 1 Georgia, while the fourth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes travel to Glendale, Arizona, for a matchup with No. 3 TCU.

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The ESPN report revealed that a lack of conversations surrounding a contract extension for Warren may also be motivating him to depart for the NFL.

FILE - In this March 12, 2020, file photo, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren addresses the media in Indianapolis. The Big Ten’s plan to play football this fall includes trying to save lives in the future. The conference announced Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, it would have a football season this fall. The Big Ten is setting up a cardiac registry to study the effects COVID-19 has on student-athletes' hearts. Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said it will help all students, surrounding communities, and the entire nation. 

FILE – In this March 12, 2020, file photo, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren addresses the media in Indianapolis. The Big Ten’s plan to play football this fall includes trying to save lives in the future. The conference announced Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, it would have a football season this fall. The Big Ten is setting up a cardiac registry to study the effects COVID-19 has on student-athletes’ hearts. Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said it will help all students, surrounding communities, and the entire nation. 
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

Warren is not expected to be in attendance at the Peach Bowl or the Fiesta Bowl. 

A Big Ten spokesperson said in a statement that Warren’s focus remains on the conference, noting, “The commissioner remains focused on the Big Ten Conference, its 14 member institutions and over 10,000 student-athletes in both regular season and postseason play.”

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The search is expected to conclude in the coming weeks.

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