Big Ten commissioner talks about the conference a year later

Published 3:53 pm Thursday, July 22, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren did not get a chance to oversee the conference’s media days in 2020, as they were canceled due to COVID-19.

Warren and the Big Ten moved its annual media days away from its usual home in Chicago to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the 2021 version of the event.

Warren, along with every coach that took to the podium on the first day of the media blitz, said they were happy to see everyone’s smiling facing and to get back to business as usual when it comes to Big Ten Football.

Warren, who replaced long-time Big Ten Conference Commissioner Jim Delany on Jan. 2, 2020, addressed multiple topics and announced the addition of long-time Wisconsin coach and athletic director Barry Alvarez as a special advisor for Big Ten football and the formation of the George and Viola Taliaferro Fellowship, which will provide individuals who have not historically had access to collegiate conference office leadership positions.

Those individuals will have the opportunity to work out of the office of the commissioner and gain experience in both sports and business.

“This morning is a special day,” Warren said. “It’s special for me. It’s special for our conference. It’s special for our network partners. It’s special for our bowl partners. It’s special for our chancellors and presidents, our athletic directors, our faculty athletic representatives, our senior women administrators, but most of all, it’s special for our student-athletes and their families. This is the start of our season.”

Warren added that the day was special due to his relationship with Alvarez and that the Big Ten is creating new opportunities for minorities.

“I trust Barry Alvarez implicitly,” he said. “I have known him since the days that I was a law student at the University of Notre Dame and he was the defensive coordinator. He means everything to this conference, and we’re so grateful that he’s agreed to join us at the conference office. He’ll be working on projects such as college football potential expansion, building relationships with our media partners, health and safety issues, scheduling issues, bowl partnerships.”

Other than questions about players being able to make money off of their likenesses, Warren was asked about the potential of playoff expansion.

“Those are all the issues that we have to work through,” he said. “One of the things I’m most excited about and, although we’re still dealing with issues of COVID 19 or variants, is to be able to get back to the work of college athletics. So, all those items that you raise, from scheduling to divisions to college football expansion, all those different things, one thing impacts another. It all impacts each other. So, this fall, I’ve already started this summer of having these conversations within our internal Big Ten family in regards to their viewpoints from college football expansion, gathering information, as they called it, kind of the next couple of months are really gathering information to decide what we feel is in the best interests. So, I am really energized and excited. That’s why I came here is to do everything we can to make this the best conference in college athletics, empower our student-athletes, and deal with issues like you’re addressing.”

The Big Ten Conference will begin its 2021 season at noon on Saturday, Aug. 28 when Illinois hosts Nebraska.