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May 23, 2006 - Knight Commission Announces New Co-Chairmen

Longtime members assume leadership

WASHINGTON — The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics named R. Gerald Turner and Clifton R. Wharton Jr. co-chairmen yesterday. Wharton was a member of the Commission at its founding in 1989 and Turner joined in 1991.  Both have been leaders in the effort to ensure that college athletics programs are conducted according to the educational missions of American universities. Turner is president of Southern Methodist University and Wharton is president emeritus of Michigan State University.

 

“Gerald Turner and Clifton Wharton are models of excellence and respected by their peers,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the commission’s sponsor. “It is essential for the Knight Commission that its leaders be principled and knowledgeable, as well as insightful and fair-minded. Gerald and Clif have all of these qualities, and so it is great news for intercollegiate athletics that they have agreed to take on these co-chair positions.”

 

“We are at a time when the lines between collegiate and professional sports are being blurred as never before,” Wharton said. “The Knight Commission has always believed that college sports need to be linked tightly with the educational mission of American colleges and universities, and the trend toward the professionalization of college sports threatens this vital linkage.”

 

Turner added that “college presidents, as well as trustees and faculty members, have the responsibility to make sure that we manage athletics programs in a way that allows the athletes involved to get the same quality of educational experience as all other students.”

 

The commission also announced William E. (Brit) Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland and former president of The Ohio State University and the University of Maryland at College Park, as a new member. All three attended their first commission meeting in their new roles today in Washington.

 

Turner and Wharton are succeeding Thomas K. Hearn Jr., president emeritus of Wake Forest University, who agreed to assume the role of chairman in March 2005 but has decided to step down for health reasons. Hearn will remain with the commission as chairman emeritus.

 

Turner (biography attached) has been president of Southern Methodist since 1995, and served as chancellor of the University of Mississippi from 1984-95. He has served in a number of NCAA leadership positions.  Currently, he is chairman of the subcommittee on presidential leadership of internal and external constituencies for the NCAA’s Presidential Task Force on the Future of Division I Athletics. The subcommittee is charged with examining the relationship between college presidents and their trustees concerning athletics issues.  Turner also was the founding chairman of the NCAA Committee on Athletics Certification.  He played basketball at Lubbock Christian College.

 

Wharton (biography attached) served as president of Michigan State from 1970-78, becoming the first African-American to head a predominantly white major university.  He also served as chancellor of the State University of New York system from 1978-87. He is a former chairman and CEO of TIAA-CREF, which provides retirement and mutual funds for academic and nonprofit institutions. A former chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation, Wharton ran track as an undergraduate at Harvard University.

 

Kirwan (biography attached) served a term as chairman of the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors from 2000 to 2003. He has also served as chairman of the boards of the American Council on Education and the National Association of State Land-Grant Colleges and Universities.  Kirwan played football as an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky.

 

About the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics

 

The Knight Commission was formed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in October 1989 in response to more than a decade of highly visible scandals in college sports. The goal of the commission was to recommend a reform agenda that emphasized academic values in an arena where commercialization of college sports often overshadowed the underlying goals of higher education.  The commission has had a major impact on the conduct of college sports through its reports, Keeping Faith with the Student-Athlete (1991) and A Call to Action (2001). The commission will continue to monitor and report on progress in presidential control, academic integrity, financial integrity and independent certification of athletics programs. More information can be found at www.knightcommission.org.

 

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

 

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. More information can be found at www.knightfdn.org.

R. Gerald Turner

 

Co-Chairman
President, Southern Methodist University

 

Dr. Gerald Turner was named co-chairman of the Knight Commission in May 2006.  Dr. Turner served on the NCAA Presidents’ Commission from 1989-1992 and was its chairman in 1991. He is the founding chair of the NCAA Certification Committee and served on the NCAA Board of Directors from 2002-2003.

 

Dr. Turner also serves as chairman of the subcommittee on presidential leadership of internal and external constituencies for the NCAA’s Presidential Task Force on the Future of Division I Athletics. The subcommittee is charged with examining the relationship between college presidents and their trustees concerning athletics issues.

 

Since becoming president of Southern Methodist University in 1995, Dr. Turner has developed a long-term strategic plan, campus master plan, and the largest major gifts campaign in the history of SMU. Ending in May 2002, The Campaign for SMU: A Time to Lead exceeded its $400 million goal, generating more than $542 million in gifts and pledges. The five-year campaign has raised funds for academic endowments, new scholarships, endowed faculty chairs and professorships, student life initiatives, and full or partial funding for 14 new or renovated facilities, and a new campus, SMU-in-Legacy in Plano, Texas.

 

Beyond the campus, Gerald Turner serves on the boards of the United Way of Dallas, the Methodist Hospital Foundation, the Salvation Army of Dallas, and three publicly traded companies:  JC Penney, American Beacon Funds, and Kronos, Inc.

 

A native of Texas, Gerald Turner earned an A.A. degree from Lubbock Christian College, a B.S. degree in psychology from Abilene Christian University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He served in various administrative capacities at Pepperdine University from 1975-1979, and the University of Oklahoma from 1979-1984, and as the Chancellor of the University of Mississippi from 1984-1995.

Clifton R. Wharton, Jr.
Co-Chairman
President Emeritus, Michigan State University

 

Dr. Clifton Wharton was appointed as co-chairman of the Knight Commission in May 2006.  An original member of the Knight Commission when it issued its first report in 1991, he began serving as vice chairman of the Commission in February 2005. 

 

Dr. Clifton Wharton has been a black pioneer in four different fields — philanthropy, foreign economic development, higher education and business.

 

Dr. Wharton is the former Chairman and CEO of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association and College Retirement Equities Fund, the world’s largest pension fund with assets of $260 billion. In this position, he became the first black CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Among his other previous pioneering positions are serving as president of Michigan State University (1970-78), where he served as the first black to head a predominantly white major university; chancellor of the State University of New York System (1978-87), this nation’s largest university system with 64 campuses; and chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation (1982-87).

 

The son of a career Foreign Service Officer and Ambassador, Dr. Wharton has served six presidents in foreign policy advisory posts and most recently in 1993 was appointed by President Clinton as Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of State.

 

Dr. Wharton’s first 22-year philanthropic career began in Latin America with Nelson Rockefeller. Subsequently, he was resident in Southeast Asia from 1958 to 1964 representing a foundation headed by John D. Rockefeller, III.  During this period, he also supervised the foundation’s programs in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, as well as taught economics at the University of Malaya.

 

At present, he is a trustee of the Clark Foundation, the Bassett Hospital (Cooperstown, NY), and the New York State Historical Association. Among his former directorships are Ford Motor Company, Time-Warner, Equitable Life, Tenneco Inc., Federated Department Stores, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), New York Stock Exchange, Harcourt General, TIAA-CREF, and Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

 

He holds a bachelor’s degree with honors in history from Harvard, a master’s from the School of Advanced International Studies of John Hopkins University, a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago, and has been awarded 62 honorary doctorates. In 1994, he received the American Council on Education Distinguished Service Award for Lifetime Achievement and in 1970 was named Boston Latin School Man of the Year.

 

William E. Kirwan
Chancellor, University System of Maryland

 

On August 1, 2002, William English Kirwan became the third chancellor of the University System of Maryland. A widely respected academic leader, Dr. Kirwan served as president of Ohio State University for four years, and as president of the University of Maryland, College Park for ten years. Prior to his presidency, he was a member of the University of Maryland faculty for 34 years.

 

He also served as chairman of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Board of Directors from 2000-2003, as well as terms on the NCAA’s Executive Committee and Committee on Agents and Amateurism.

 

Dr. Kirwan received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Kentucky and his master's and doctoral degrees in mathematics from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in 1962 and 1964. He is a member of several honorary and professional societies, including Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, the American Mathematical Society, and the Mathematical Association of America. A prolific scholar, he is co-editor of the book Advances in Complex Analysis and has published many articles on mathematical research.

 

A national leader in higher education, Dr. Kirwan is past Chair of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges' Board of Directors and of the American Council on Education's Board. He is also a member of the Business-Higher Education Forum.

 

Dr. Kirwan was appointed by President Clinton to serve as a member of the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st Century and chaired the National Research Council's Commission on the Mathematical Sciences in the Year 2000, which produced the report, Moving Beyond Myths: Revitalizing Undergraduate Mathematics, National Academy Press (1991). He was appointed by President Bush to the Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

 

The recipient of many honors, Dr. Kirwan has been elected to the Hall of Distinguished Alumni at both the University of Kentucky and Rutgers University. He also was selected to receive the Rutgers University award for Career Achievement on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of that university’s graduate school. Dr. Kirwan received the 2004 National Innovators Award, the highest honor awarded by Minority Access, Inc., recognizing his commitment to diversity and to improving the recruitment and retention of minorities. In 2002, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition, Dr. Kirwan received the Maryland Senate's First Citizen of Maryland Award in 1998.