CHICAGO — On Thursday, the Chicago Bears named Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren as their president and chief executive officer.
Warren will replace outgoing President and CEO Ted Phillips, who announced in September that he would retire after the 2022 NFL season. He is the first president and CEO not hired from within the Bears organization, and the first black president in the team’s history.
“Kevin is an honest, respected and committed person, all of which are core values of the Chicago Bears, and we applaud his vision and versatility to lead this legendary organization,” said Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey. “He is a proven leader who has stepped outside his comfort zone many times to challenge the status quo for unconventional growth and prosperity. In this role, Warren will fill the franchise’s main leadership position to help bring in the next Super Bowl championship trophy. home for Bears fans.
According to a team press release, Warren will oversee general manager Ryan Powles and the club’s business operations. Powles currently reports to McCaskey, an organizational change came when he was hired as CEO in January 2022. Previous general managers have reported to Phillips.
The G-10 Council of Presidents and Chancellors said in a statement it would work with Warren “through this transition” and begin searching for a new commissioner.
Bears staff have been told that Warren’s first day of work will be April 17, a source told Sportzshala’s Pete Thamel. Warren is expected to be introduced at a press conference at Halas Hall on Tuesday.
“I am honored and I recognize the responsibility placed on me to lead the Chicago Bears at this exciting and pivotal time for the franchise,” Warren said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing the rich tradition that began with George Halas and connecting with Chicago’s unique and vibrant fan base. I gratefully join the Chicago Bears and strive to continue and build on the legacy and spirit of this seminal franchise and my predecessors. This franchise is respected in all professional sports and I am proud to be chosen 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 bring championships to Chicago.”
Sources told Thamel that Warren has been in the Big Ten since June 2019, but the conference did not recently renew his contract. Last summer, Warren helped expand the conference by adding USC and UCLA as member organizations starting in August 2024. He also secured a seven-year, over $7 billion Big Ten media rights deal with CBS, Fox, and NBC.
“The Council of Presidents and Chancellors (COP/C) of the G10 Conference would like to thank Commissioner Kevin Warren for his valuable work at the conference and its member organizations over the past three years,” the council said in a statement. “He led the conference with a pioneering spirit, passion for people and exceptional business acumen.
“Commissioner Warren played a key role in expanding academic and athletic institutions from 14 to 16 and led the media rights talks at the conference. He has dedicated himself to ensuring participation and fairness in the conference by championing mental health and wellness. We thank him for his service and wish him all the best in his new endeavor as President and CEO of the Chicago Bears.”
Warren’s extensive NFL experience spans 21 years and includes appearances with the Rams, Lions and Vikings, with whom he worked from 2005 to 2019. In 2015, he was appointed Chief Operating Officer of Minnesota.
Sources told Sportzshala that Warren’s influence in helping the Vikings build US Bank Stadium in 2016 appealed to the Bears, who also want to build a new stadium after 50 seasons at Soldier Field. The Bears plan to close a deal to buy 326 acres in Arlington Heights in the first quarter of 2023 and unveiled initial development plans that include a domed stadium last fall.
The Bears have been in contract with the property since September 2021, when they signed a $197.2 million sale and purchase agreement.
“Kevin will be a huge resource and I’m thrilled to get started with him,” said Bears general manager Ryan Poles. “During the time I spent with him during the interview, it quickly became clear that his resume and business acumen would be a powerful asset in helping to improve our organization and ultimately achieve our goal of becoming a champion organization.”
Phillips spent 40 seasons with the Bears, including his last 23 seasons as President/CEO. He was only the fourth person to serve as president in the organization’s 102 years of existence, and the first from outside the Halas-McCaskey family to hold the position.
“It was important to make sure the Bears had the right leader before I retired,” Phillips said. “Kevin will do an excellent job bringing the best people to Halas Hall and continue to grow our proud franchise.”
Adam Rittenberg of Sportzshala contributed to this report.