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Kevin Warren jumps from Big Ten to become Bears president, CEO

Oct 12, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, US; Big Ten Conference commissioner Kevin Warren speaks to the media during the Big Ten Basketball Media Days at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren is the new president and CEO of the Chicago Bears.

Warren, 59, was named Big Ten commissioner in 2000 following 15 years with the Minnesota Vikings. The first minority commissioner of the Big Ten, Warren was a pioneering executive in the NFL in positions with the then-St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions and advanced from a role as legal counsel to become the first African-American Chief Operating Officer of an NFL franchise with the Vikings in 2015.

His third and latest stop in the NFC North keeps Warren in Chicago, where the Big Ten conference offices are based. Warren’s title will also include CEO, per NFL Network.

Warren helped the Big Ten navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, negotiate a massive increase in broadcast and streaming rights and add prominent programs to the conference. USC and UCLA are scheduled to join the Big Ten as part of Warren’s vision to move beyond a regional conference.

The Bears hired a then-36-year-old Ryan Poles as the franchise’s seventh general manager one year ago. Chicago and the Washington Commanders, under the direction of president Jason Wright and general manager Martin Mayhew, are the only NFL teams whose president and general manager are Black.

Recent trends away from diverse hires has become a focus for the NFL league office. Commissioner Roger Goodell commended the Las Vegas Raiders and Vikings for hiring minority candidates last offseason, when Sandra Douglass Morgan became president of the Raiders and the Vikings named Kwesi Adofo-Mensah general manager.

The Bears have operated for decades with Ted Phillips as president. In 1999, he became the fourth team president in franchise history, following George “Papa Bear” Halas, George Halas Jr. and Michael McCaskey.

McCaskey’s brother, George, remains team chairman. George McCaskey is the son of Edward McCaskey and Halas’ grandson.

The daughter of founder George S. Halas, team owner Virginia McCaskey — who was Edward’s wife — celebrated her 100th birthday on Jan. 5. Virginia McCaskey has been principal owner of the team since her father’s death in 1983.

–Field Level Media