Reports: Big Ten to hire former MLB and CBS Sports executive Tony Petitti as commissioner

On3 imageby:On3 Staff Report04/11/23

The Big 10 has a new commissioner, with the league tapping former Major League Baseball and CBS Sports Executive Tony Petitti for the role, according to multiple reports.

Petitti will replace Kevin Warren, who left earlier this year to take the position of team president and CEO of the Chicago Bears.

The move continues the trend of hiring people with valuable TV experience to prominent roles in college athletics leadership.

After going through Haverford College and then Harvard Law School, Petitti spent two years serving at a law firm before joining ABC Sports as an attorney. As part of his duties at ABC Sports, Petitti helped in acquisition and scheduling for the network’s programming.

He also spent time at CBS, where he became an executive vice president and had a large hand in the network’s NFL coverage.

Petitti left CBS to take a role as the head of the MLB Network prior to its 2009 launch.

Before Petitti’s hire, the Big Ten had a short stint from its former commissioner. Warren had previously spent a long career in the NFL before assuming the post.

His tenure lasted from June 4, 2019 until his hire by the Bears in early 2023.

That was a far shorter stint than his predecessor, Jim Delany, who served as the fifth Big Ten commissioner. Delany stood in his post from 1989 through 2019.

Delany helped oversee the creation of the Big Ten Network, as well as some significant rounds of conference expansion, which included the addition of Penn State in 1990 and the additions of Nebraska in 2011 and Maryland and Rutgers in 2014.

The Big Ten has since decided on some further expansion, set to add UCLA and USC from the Pac-12 prior to the start of the 2024-25 athletics year.

Tony Petitti, the new Big Ten commissioner, won’t have to do a ton of work with media rights deals initially, as the conference has already locked in a lucrative TV rights deal, inking a seven-year agreement with Fox, CBS and NBCS that will bring more than $7 billion to the conference. The deal begins on July 1, 2023 and will run through the end of the 2029-30 athletics year.

The deal will be quite lucrative for the conference’s member schools.

Projected revenue distributions per school are expected to be in the $80-100 million range, a significant escalation from the most recent distribution of $54.3 million (figure from USA Today reporting).