Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, the only African American Power 5 conference commissioner and the former COO of the Minnesota Vikings, has created the Big Ten Conference Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.
Floyd, a black man who was in handcuffs at the time, died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. His death has sparked outrage and protests across the country.
In an open letter released by the Big Ten conference on Monday, Warren invited student-athletes, coaches, athletic directors, chancellors, presidents and others to join him.
"I have already received powerful notes of support and interest in joining this coalition and look forward to partnering with the existing diversity councils on our various campuses," wrote Warren, who lived full time with his family in the Minneapolis area for over 15 years when he was with the Vikings. "It is critical that our student-athletes possess their rights to free speech, their rights to peaceful protest and we will work to empower them in creating meaningful change."
"We must listen to our young people," he wrote. "Our children and future generations deserve better. We are either part of the problem or part of the solution. The Big Ten Conference will be part of the solution as we actively and constructively combat racism and hate in our country."
Warren and his wife, Greta, also announced a personal, initial gift of $100,000 from the Warren Family Foundation to the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, based in Washington, D.C., which focuses on addressing issues regarding racism, hate and voter registration.