The Chicago Bears search for a new team president and CEO is nearing its end.
According to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren is expected to be hired by the end of this month, with an official announcement possible in the coming days.
Warren, who has been with the Big Ten for a little more than three years, will supplant outgoing Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips, who is retiring at the end of February. Phillips has been with the Bears organization for more than 39 years, the last 24 in the president and CEO role.
Warren’s expected arrival will come at a landmark time in the organization’s history with the Bears pursuing a grand venture to build a new stadium and working to close on a 326-acre piece of land at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights soon with the property envisioned to become the home of not only a new stadium but a large entertainment district.
Warren, who was with the Minnesota Vikings organization for 15 seasons before leaving for the Big Ten, was instrumental in creating the vision for US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis and seeing it through during his time as the team’s Chief Operating Office. The Vikings opened that venue in July 2016. Less than two years later, they also moved into their new state-of-the-art practice facility and team headquarters in Eagan, Minn., another project that had Warren’s fingerprints all over it.
After Phillips announced his plans to retire in September, Bears chairman George McCaskey expressed eagerness to begin a search for a replacement with the help of search firm Nolan Partners. McCaskey listed several key traits he’d be searching for in a candidate including leadership, vision, humility and consensus building.
“You look at the qualities of outstanding leaders, and we think we’re going to be able to bring in an exceptional candidate to succeed Ted and lead the Bears,” McCaskey said in September.
Warren will join the Bears at a pivotal time. Not only will he be responsible for overseeing the team’s stadium project and ongoing business ventures, but he will be expected to provide direction to an entire building for a franchise that will have the No. 1 overall pick for April’s draft.
During Warren’s time as Big Ten commissioner, his think-big mentality has been evident. The conference finalized a record-setting media rights deal worth more than $7 billion in August. The conference also continued its expansion efforts with wheels in motion for Southern California and UCLA to join the league in 2024.
When Warren was hired to become Big Ten commissioner in September 2019, Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf lauded his leadership skills.
“Kevin has impacted the Vikings and our family in immeasurable ways over the last 15 years,” the Wilfs said in a statement. “He has worked tirelessly to elevate the Vikings franchise, all with the greater good of the organization and Minneapolis-St. Paul in mind.”
It is not yet known how much oversight Warren will be given over the team’s football operations. Until last January, Phillips had been the point person for the hiring, firing and performance evaluations of the Bears general managers. It remains possible that McCaskey would give Warren similar supervision duties.