INDIANAPOLIS – He didn’t say no.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren didn’t rule out more expansion by the Big Ten at the conference’s football media days on Tuesday. “I get asked every single 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 student-athletes, academic and athletic empowerment at the center of any and all decisions that we will make regarding any further expansions.
“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 be put on a larger platform so they can build their careers but also that they have an opportunity to grow and learn from an education and from an athletic standpoint,” he said.
Warren did not name any future expansion partners and was not asked about specific universities who the Big Ten might consider as expansion targets after growing to 16 teams by adding USC and UCLA in late June.
“I think there’s two types of people in the world, that they look at change as it’s a problem or they look at change as an opportunity. I’m one of those individuals that, when change occurs, I get excited about it,” he said
“So 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 and our fans and our universities deserve that. I just want to make sure we’re aggressive how we build this. We’ve got to do it in the right way for the right reasons at the right time.”
Warren, in his third year as the Big Ten’s commissioner, said he is “100 percent supportive of College Football Playoff expansion.
“What is that right number (of teams)? We’ll figure it out. I’m confident we’ll get College Football Playoff expansion resolved. I feel very strongly that we need to open it up to have multiple media partners. We need to make sure we protect some of the critical bowl relationships.”
The Big Ten is close to signing a new television rights contract for future games, which obviously became more lucrative with the addition of USC and UCLA starting in 2024.
“I’m incredibly pleased with where we are. We have great opportunities. We’re finalizing our deals, and I look forward to standing before you to make an announcement sometime here, sooner than later,” he said.
Warren declared he is a “big proponent” of college athletes being able to receive money for using their name, image and likeness. But he said he would like to see one big change in NIL.
I’m a big proponent of name, image and likeness. I am so grateful that many of our student-athletes have been blessed with the ability to monetize their name, image and likeness.
“I am disappointed that we still have to operate with these various patchwork of laws from a state-level standpoint. We need federal legislation to help put in some guardrails to make it even more cleaner, to make sure name, image and likeness is not used as a recruiting inducement,” he said.
“We will be innovative, we will be creative, we’ll be bold, we’ll be strong, we’ll be powerful, and we’ll be direct to make sure we can prioritize what’s important to our student-athletes, what’s important to our fans, what’s important to our member institutions, what’s important to our partners as we help shape and direct the future of college athletics.
“I want to make sure that we not only make the right decisions that what’s right right now for our student-athletes and for our games and our competitions and our academic opportunities and our fans, but I want to make decisions that, when we look back 30 years from now, that people will say that the Big Ten Conference was ahead of the curve in making these decisions.”