Knight Commission Names New Members

Veterans of sports, industry, and academe join commission

Miami, Fla. – The Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics announced eight new members today, along with one former member returning to the panel. The new commissioners bring a broad array of experience and perspectives to the mission of reforming intercollegiate athletics.

“The Knight Commission is moving into a new era of examining the alignment of athletic and academic missions on our nation’s campuses,” said Thomas K. Hearn Jr., chairman of the commission and president emeritus of Wake Forest University. “These individuals are busy people who did not need another task on their plates.  They answered our call because they too believe the job is important to the future of higher education, and that the job is not done.”

The new commissioners are leaders in academe, business, journalism, and sports.  Half of the new members participated in intercollegiate athletics:

  • Val Ackerman, president of USA Basketball; founding president of the Women’s National Basketball Association; and former basketball player at the University of Virginia.
  • Bill Asbury, vice president emeritus for student affairs at Pennsylvania State University and a former football player at Kent State University and for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • Anita DeFrantz, president of the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles and member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and International Olympic Committee.
  • Janet Hill, vice president of Alexander & Associates, board member for three corporations and  two institutions of higher education; parent of former collegiate and current professional basketball player.
  • Steve Largent, former Oklahoma Congressman, NFL Hall of Fame member, former All-American football player at Tulsa, and president of CTIA-The Wireless Association.
  • Andrea Fischer Newman, chairwoman of the board of regents of the University of Michigan and senior vice president for government affairs at Northwest Airlines.
  • Jerry Porras, professor emeritus of organizational behavior at Stanford University and co-author of Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.
  • Judy Woodruff, CNN contributor, former correspondent and anchor for CNN, PBS and NBC, and trustee emerita at Duke University.

In addition, Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, is new to the Knight Commission and will serve as an ex officio member. Ibargüen, former publisher of The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, assumed the position of Knight Foundation president in July.  

Hodding Carter III, the foundation’s former president, will remain on the commission as a regular member.  Beginning in 2006, Carter will be University Professor of leadership and public policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Carter joined the commission as an ex officio member in 2000 and was instrumental in the development of A Call to Action, the commission’s 2001 report.

Finally, Dr. Charles E. Young, president emeritus of the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Florida, is rejoining the commission after spending nearly two years as president of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.

“These new members will absolutely infuse the Knight Commission’s vital work in collegiate athletic reform with perspective and vigor,” said Ibargüen.     

The commission now has 20 members. In addition to Hearn, R. Gerald Turner and Clifton R. Wharton serve as vice-chairmen. Turner is president of Southern Methodist University, and Wharton is a former chairman and CEO of TIAA-CREF.

The commission meets Nov. 8 at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, D.C. On its agenda will be a review of the efforts to improve athletes’ academic performance on the part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, faculty groups, and individual universities.  The new members of the commission will participate in the press conference following the meeting.  The commission also will meet Jan. 30, 2006 and May 22, 2006.

About the Knight Foundation 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. 

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 26 U.S. communities.