The Big Ten has formed an anti-hate and anti-racism coalition in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.


The creation of the coalition was announced by the conference’s commissioner, Kevin Warren, in an open letter released Monday evening, inviting athletes, coaches, and campus administrators to join the effort.


Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis last week, igniting a wave of protests across the country in recent days.


As seen in a video, a white officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes before he died. Chauvin has since been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.


“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,” Warren wrote. “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.



Prior to succeeding longtime commissioner Jim Delany this year, Warren lived with his family in the Minneapolis area, the epicenter of the protests. He had worked in the front office for the Minnesota Vikings since 2005 and was the chief operating officer during his last four years with the organization.


When joining the Big Ten, Warren became the first African-American commissioner of a Power 5 conference.


“As a Black man, I pray every day for the health and safety of my wife and children, especially during interactions with law enforcement,” he wrote. “We continue to see inequality and deep divide regarding how members of the Black community are treated compared to the rest of society and too often, the results have been horrific and senseless. Such racism and inequality are pervasive, not just endemic in law enforcement.”


In his letter, Warren said he and his wife, Greta, also planned to donate $100,000 from their family's foundation to the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights in Washington.


jkaufman@dispatch.com


@joeyrkaufman