Top Vikings’ executive departs to become commissioner of Big Ten

The Vikings will be looking for a new chief operating officer.

Kevin Warren, 55, was named commissioner of the Big Ten on Tuesday morning, replacing Jim Delany. Delany, the conference’s commissioner since 1989, will leave the job in June 2020.

Warren has been with the Vikings since 2005. He played a key role in Zygi Wilf’s purchase of the franchise and then became the team’s executive vice president of legal affairs and chief administrative officer. Warren was promoted to COO by the Vikings in 2015.

He is the highest-ranking African-American executive working on the business side for a team in the NFL and the first African-American COO in league history. Warren becomes the first black commissioner of a Power Five conference.

“Kevin has impacted the Vikings and our family in immeasurable ways over the last 15 years,” Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf 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. From the very onset, Kevin helped us navigate and execute the purchase of the franchise. He then evolved as a leader of the organization in ways we never could have imagined, leading our vision for U.S. Bank Stadium and TCO Performance Center, developing a world-class fan experience, and implementing many initiatives that have transformed our franchise with the benefit of our employees and Vikings fans top of mind.

“Kevin has been a tremendous leader for the Vikings and he and his family have been passionately and intricately involved in the community, enhancing the lives of so many people. We know the Big Ten and their student-athletes, coaches, and administrators are extremely fortunate to have his leadership, character, and vision, and we wish Kevin and the Warren family all the best. We will work with Kevin and the Vikings management team over the next three months to help us through this transition and process how we want to move forward.”