Big Ten's Kevin Warren: More conference expansion may be coming, TV deal close

INDIANAPOLIS — Between name, image and likeness, potential College Football Playoff expansion and conference realignment, change is not just coming to college football, it's here.

With the writing on the wall, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren took the podium at Lucas Oil Stadium on Tuesday to kick off Big Ten media days and didn't hide his, or the conference's, intentions moving forward.

"The Big Ten Conference was born out of a desire to be bold," Warren said, referencing the day in 18xx when seven college presidents came together at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago to discuss the formation of the league. "There are two types of people in the world, they look at change as a problem or see it as an opportunity.

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren talks to reporters during the Big Ten media days on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in Indianapolis.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren talks to reporters during the Big Ten media days on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in Indianapolis.

"I'm embracing change, I"m going to be very aggressive, I've been that way my entire career and I just want to make sure we build an environment because our student athletes, fans and universities deserve that."

The most notable of those changes, the addition of USC and UCLA, who will join the conference in 2024.

Warren said there are a handful of reasons for their addition; chief among them is now having a footprint in each of the three largest television markets — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Warren said while the expansion announcement happened this summer, it's long been on his mind. He discussed it in his interviews before he was named commissioner in June 2019 and has sat at roundtables and had phone calls throughout the years, mapping out what the future may look like.

But while there was uncertainty in exactly how it will happen, Warren always had a vision to be on the cutting edge.

"I get asked every day, 'what's next?'," Warren said. "It may include future expansion, but it will be done for the right reasons, at the right time, with our students academic and athletic empowerment at the center.

"We will not expand just to expand. It will be strategic, it will add additional value to our conference and it will provide a platform to have our student athletes to be put on a larger platform so they can build their careers."

Strategic can mean multiple things, but at the forefront, Warren implied all decisions need to make both dollars and sense.

Nothing brings in more money than the TV rights deals, which are still in discussion and while Warren said he hopes to have an announcement on that "sooner than later", he  stopped short of putting a timeline on it.

"While the dollars are important to our member institutions, it's really about the platform to provide stability," Warren said. "So we can provide excellent healthcare, mental health services, life skills, programs and even educational experiences to our student athletes."

Contact Tony Garcia at apgarcia@freepress.com. Follow him on twitter at @realtonygarcia.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Big Ten's Kevin Warren: More expansion may be coming, TV deal close