Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren is considered a "top candidate" to be the next president and CEO of the Chicago Bears, according to ESPN's Pete Thamel.
The Bears are expected to make a decision "in the upcoming weeks," Thamel added.
Chicago later denied the report, saying it had "not set a timeline" for announcing a replacement for Ted Phillips, who is serving in the roles.
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
Statement from Bears on Pres. and CEO search:<br> <br>"We have not set a timeline for announcing Ted Phillip's successor. Our search team has cast a wide net, spoke to many outstanding candidates and looks forward to introducing our next President and CEO at the process's conclusion."
The Bears announced in September that Phillips would retire at the end of February following 40 years with the franchise. He was the fourth president in Bears history, joining George Halas, George Halas Jr. and Michael McCaskey.
Phillips said when he announced his retirement:
"Forty seasons is a long time. I'm very blessed and I love my job. But when COVID hit, it gave me time to reflect and think about what I want my future to be. I'm healthy, so there's no issue there, knock on wood. It was more just wanting to give myself the gift of time, to be able to enjoy my family and my friends.
"It's a demanding job; takes a lot of time, there's a lot of pressure. I just felt like it's time to hand the baton to somebody else."
If Warren lands the job, he'll be tasked with leading a Bears franchise that hasn't won a Super Bowl since 1986 and hasn't made it past the Wild Card round since the 2010 season.
The addition of second-year quarterback Justin Fields in 2021 provided the club with a lot of hope for the future, but the Bears are once again out of the playoff picture with a 3-12 record this season.
Warren's experience with the Minnesota Vikings, including his role in helping the franchise build U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened in 2016, "has been appealing to the Bears," according to Thamel.
Warren's familiarity with the process of building a stadium would be beneficial for the Bears, which purchased land in Arlington Heights in hopes of leaving Soldier Field and building a new stadium in the coming years.
Warren worked in various roles for the Vikings from 2005-2019. He served as the franchise's chief operating officer from 2015-2019 before taking over as Big Ten commissioner in 2020.
The 59-year-old also served as an executive for the then-St. Louis Rams from 1997-2000 and the Detroit Lions from 2001-2003.