CHICAGO — The Chicago Bears named Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren president and CEO Thursday.
Warren will replace outgoing President and CEO Ted Phillips, who announced his retirement last September after the 2022 season.
“Kevin is a man of integrity, respect, and excellence, which are all core values core to the Chicago Bears, and we welcome his diverse perspective and intellect to lead this storied organization,” Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey said in a statement. “He is a proven leader and has stepped outside his comfort zone many times to challenge the status quo for unconventional growth and prosperity. In this role, Warren will serve in the primary leadership position for the franchise to help bring the next Super Bowl trophy home for Bears fans.”
Warren informed Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones, president of the Illinois Council of Senior Presidents/Advisers, of his departure, according to sources. The top 10 presidents and chancellors are scheduled to meet later Thursday morning.
“I am honored and acknowledge the responsibility I have been given to lead the Chicago Bears through this exciting and pivotal time for the franchise,” Warren said in a statement. “I look forward to building on the rich tradition that began with George Halas and connecting with Chicago’s unique and vibrant fanbase. I joined the Chicago Bears with gratitude and a quest to carry on and build on the legacy and spirit of this founding franchise and my predecessors. This is a franchise respected in all professional sports, and I feel Humbled to be selected as the next President and CEO of the Chicago Bears. I sincerely thank Virginia McCaskey, George McCaskey, the McCaskey family, and Ted Phillips, the search team, for the responsibility and trust placed in me to lead the Chicago Bears and bring championships to Chicago.”
Warren has been with the Big Ten since June 2019 but was not recently given a contract extension by the conference, according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel. His extensive experience in the NFL includes stints with the Rams, Lions and Vikings, where he served from 2005 to 2019. He spent 2005-14 as the Vikings’ executive vice president of legal affairs and chief administrative officer before being promoted to Minnesota’s chief operating officer in 2015.
Sources tell ESPN that Warren’s influence in helping the Vikings build US Bank Stadium in 2016 was attractive to the Bears, who are also looking to build a new stadium after 50 seasons at Soldier Field. The Bears aim to finalize the purchase of the 326-acre Arlington Heights during the first quarter of 2023 and unveiled initial plans for the development, which is set to include a domed stadium, last fall.
“Kevin will be a tremendous resource and I’m excited to get started with him,” Bears general manager Ryan Bowles said. “In the time I spent with him during the interview process it quickly became clear his resume and his business acumen will be a strong asset to help improve our organization and ultimately reach our goal of being a champion organization.”
The Bears have been under contract on the property since September 2021, when they signed a $197.2 million sale and purchase agreement.
Phillips has spent 40 seasons with the Bears, including the past 23 seasons in his role as President/CEO. He was only the fourth person to hold the office of president in the organization’s 102-year existence and the first person outside the Halas-McCaskey family to hold the position.
“It was important to make sure the Bears had the right leader in place before I retired,” Phillips said. “Kevin will do an excellent job of bringing out the best in the great people at Halas Hall and continuing to grow our proud franchise.”
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg contributed to this report.