In an open letter posted to the Big Ten Conference website Monday, commissioner Kevin Warren announced he is creating an anti-racism coalition in the wake of last week's killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Warren, whose first anniversary in his present position is Thursday, lived in Minneapolis for 15 years before relocating to Chicago to become the first black commissioner of a Power Five conference.
"Meaningful change will only occur if, as a nation, we are united, resilient and determined to create difficult, uncomfortable dialogue and take significant tangible action," Warren wrote. "We all need to strive to make the world a better place. One person, one family, one city, one state, one conference, one country."
He wrote that "George Floyd's death cannot be in vain."
"I have made the decision to create the Big Ten Conference Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition and invite student-athletes, coaches, athletic directors, chancellors, presidents and others to join me," Warren continued. "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. 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. 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 wife Gretta have pledged an 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.
His letter concludes, "I will continue to pray, lead and take action to eliminate racism and hate in our country."
“This has to stop. We have to build better relationships with law enforcement. They have to be trained better,” Warren told The Associated Press. “But it has to stop. And we just need to do what we can at every and any level to eliminate hate, to eliminate racism. We're going to take a stance on it in the Big Ten. I’m personally invested in this.
“I may look back over my career, my entire career, and forming this coalition and the work that comes out of it could end up having the biggest impact on society than anything else I’ve ever done.”