CHARLOTTE, N.C., — R. Gerald Turner, Chancellor of the University of Mississippi, today was named a member of the independent, blue-ribbon Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics as the replacement for Lamar Alexander, former president of the University of Tennessee who resigned earlier this year upon his confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Education.
Turner; Knight Commission co-chairman William C. Friday, former president of the University of North Carolina; and Commission member LeRoy T. Walker, treasurer of the U.S. Olympic Committee, all are scheduled to testify in Washington on Thursday before the U.S. House of Representatives. This is the second in a series of hearings on intercollegiate athletics being conducted by the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Competitiveness, chaired by Congresswoman Cardiss Collins of Illinois.
Turner, whose appointment was recommended by the Knight Commission leadership and approved by the Trustees of Knight Foundation, is currently chairman of the Presidents Commission of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a group representing university presidents within the NCAA. In recent years, the Presidents Commission has played a strong leadership role in the reform of intercollegiate athletics by exercising its power to propose changes in NCAA rules and operations, order the legislative agenda for national conventions, and call for roll-call votes from the membership on critical issues.
Turner, a Texas native, is a past president of the Southeastern Conference. He has been chancellor of the University of Mississippi since 1984. His administration has been noted for expansion of the university academically with the development of innovative academic programs and the capitalization and creation of new academic facilities, as well as the improvement and construction of sports facilities, both at the Oxford and Jackson campuses. Faced with the challenge of leading a state-supported institution in a time of economic stress, he has guided creation of fund-raising collaborations involving business, government, foundations and individuals.
Turner played college basketball as a student at Lubbock, Texas, Christian College and has been a strong spokesman during his career as a teacher and administrator for the importance of the connection between academics and athletics in college life.
In addition to Friday, Walker and Turner, other members of the Knight Commission are:
Co-chairman Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, president emeritus of Notre Dame; Creed C. Black, president of Knight Foundation which funds the Commission; Douglas Dibbert, Alumni Association, University of North Carolina; John DiBiaggio, president, Michigan State University; Thomas K. Hearn, president, Wake Forest University; J. Lloyd Huck, chairman of the board, Pennsylvania State University; Bryce Jordan, president emeritus, Pennsylvania State University; Richard W. Kazmaier, president, Kazmaier Associates; Donald R. Keough, president, The Coca-Cola Company; Martin A. Massengale, president, University of Nebraska.
Also, Rep. Tom McMillen (D-Md.), U.S. House of Representatives; Chase N. Peterson, president emeritus, University of Utah; Jane C. Pfeiffer, former chair, National Broadcasting Company, A. Kenneth Pye, president, Southern Methodist University; Richard D. Schultz, executive director, NCAA; Donna E. Shalala, chancellor, University of Wisconsin- Madison; James J. Whalen, president, Ithaca College; Clifton R. Wharton, chairman-CEO, TIAA-CREF; and Charles E. Young, chancellor, UCLA.
The Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics was created in October 1989 by The Knight Foundation for the purpose of developing and advancing a reform agenda for college sports. The Knight Foundation, established in 1950 by John S. and James L. Knight, is one of the nation’s largest private foundations. It makes national grants in journalism, higher education and the field of arts and culture. It also supports organizations in communities where the Knight brothers were involved in publishing newspapers but is wholly separate from and independent of those newspapers.