Report: Bears president Kevin Warren facing scrutiny for botched Big Ten television rights deal


(670 The Score) Bears president and CEO Kevin Warren is under scrutiny for his role in the Big Ten's incomplete television rights deal that now has significant money in flux, according to a report from ESPN.

As the Big Ten's commissioner from 2020 through this April, Warren oversaw the negotiation of a $7-billion broadcasting deal that remains incomplete. One key problem now is the Big Ten owes $65 million to Fox, and the conference is projecting lost value in its deal that's nearing completion with NBC, according to the report.

The Big Ten must pay back nearly $40 million to Fox because Warren brought the 2026 football conference championship game to NBC without the full authority to do so. The broadcast rights to the Big Ten's title game were controlled by Fox and the Big Ten Network, not the conference itself, according to the report. The Big Ten must also pay $25 million in lost revenue to Fox for missed football games in the 2020 season, when Warren initially canceled the season in August due to the COVID-19 pandemic before reversing course.

The Big Ten could also lose tens of millions of dollars in value on its NBC deal because of tension surrounding primetime games in November. The conference previously hadn't required schools to play primetime games that late in the season, but the deal with NBC includes such night games, and schools have pushed back, ESPN reported. Each of the 14 Big Ten universities could be on the hook for $5 million, according to the report.

The Big Ten has hired an outside firm to determine whether Warren is deserving of a bonus. The conference paid former commissioner Jim Delany more than $20 million for his work in a 2017 television deal. As Warren joined the Bears, the Big Ten introduced Tony Petitti as its new commissioner in April.

Warren was tabbed by the Bears in January to be their new president and CEO. At that time, he spoke of his belief that the Big Ten was in a "demonstratively better position" than when he took over.

“I just felt in 40 months there, for us to be able to come in and handle the pandemic in a manner that I thought kept our student-athletes healthy and safe, for us to be a leader in social justice initiatives, for us to be a leader in the mental health space, for us to be able set records from a television network creativity standpoint, and to be able to expand with USC and UCLA, I would say I left the Big Ten in a demonstratively better position,” Warren said at his introductory press conference in January.

“I just felt like I had made the impact at the Big Ten at that point in time, it's in a phenomenal position, and someone else should be afforded that opportunity to recognize their dreams. And to be blessed to have the Chicago Bears at this point in time with the challenges that they're facing, but the huge opportunities and the work that it's going to take. It was time to be able to go.”

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