Kevin Warren Says Big Ten Could Expand to 20 Members, Pay Athletes

By Dan Hope on August 19, 2022 at 11:15 am
Kevin Warren

The additions of USC and UCLA might just be the beginning of Big Ten expansion.

Asked by Bryant Gumbel of HBO’s Real Sports if the Big Ten could add four more teams to expand to 20, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren responded affirmatively.

“I could,” Warren said, according to quotes shared by HBO. “I could see perpetual and future growth.”

Warren, who said at Big Ten Media Days that he is “embracing change” and “going to be very aggressive,” echoed a similar sentiment during his interview with Gumbel.

“There’s gonna be a lot of disruption. And that’s okay,” Warren said when asked about realignment in college sports. “We need to embrace it if we want to make sure that we continually build college athletics in a position where it’s here 100 and 200 years from now.”

Warren also said he could foresee a future in which Big Ten athletes are paid. While he stopped short of outlining a plan for how and when revenue could be shared with athletes, he said that is a conversation the Big Ten needs to have.

”Those are the things that we have to resolve. We have to,” Warren said. “So I want to be a part of this conversation, and will be part of this conversation of what we can do to make this better.”

Warren’s interview with Real Sports is set to air on HBO at 11 p.m. Tuesday.

The Big Ten will have more revenue than ever before to potentially share with athletes after finalizing a media rights deal on Thursday that will pay the conference more than $8 billion over the next seven years. Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud said Thursday he believes college athletes should get a share of the revenue, but Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith expressed reservations about athletes being paid directly.

“That doesn't mean that the scholarship model might not change,” Smith said. “I mean, this is the first year for us of the Alston distribution where every single student-athlete is getting over $5,900, which is about a $6 million hit to our budget. So they're already getting it. So do we do more down the road? Possibly. And that will be discussed, but not in the form of pay for play. Otherwise I'm out.”

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