(FOX 9) - Minnesota Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren has been named the new commissioner of the Big Ten Conference. He will be the first African-American commissioner of a Power Five conference.
Warren was introduced as the conference’s sixth commissioner on Tuesday. He will start on Sept. 16. Current commissioner Jim Delany will officially step down on Jan. 1, 2019, after a 30-year career with the conference.
He was with the Vikings since 2005 and was promoted to COO in 2014. He is the the highest-ranking African-American executive working on the business side for a team in the NFL the first African-American COO in NFL history.
In a statement, Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf called Warren a “tremendous leader” for the organization and said he has impacted the Vikings in “immeasurable ways” over the last 15 years.
The Wilfs say they will work with Warren and the Vikings management team on the transition over the next three months.
Warren was instrumental in the planning and process for the construction of both U.S. Bank Stadium, the new home of the Vikings, and TCO Performance Center, the Vikings' practice facility in Eagan.
"Kevin has been outstanding to me ever since I’ve been here. Very, very positive. Obviously he helped get this building built and all the things he’s done for the football organization. He’s been a good friend and a good mentor," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday after the team's OTA practice. "He’s always been extremely supportive of myself and the players, and the football side of the organization."
Zimmer added, "He’s an outstanding leader, he’s a great communicator. I think the Big Ten is getting a great leader and a great, innovative guy that’s going to continue to take that conference to bigger and better things."