Davis Whitfield, the N.C. High School Athletic Association commissioner, has resigned effective July 1.
Whitfield will become the chief operating officer of the National Federation of State High School Associations in Indianapolis. The Federation is the parent organization of the 50 state associations (plus the District of Columbia), including the NCHSAA.
Bob Gardner, executive director, said Whitfield would work with Federation staff and budget, high school rules committees and be a resource to state associations.
“It is a huge job,” Gardner said. “He will be No. 2 in command.”
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Whitfield succeeded Charles Adams as the NCHSAA head in 2010.
Whitfield, 44, came to the NCHSAA from the ACC, where he had been assistant commissioner for championships. His duties had included a wide variety of jobs, including marketing, facilities, sponsorships and media relations.
“Davis has had an amazing variety of experiences at an early age,” Gardner said. “He is going to be a vital asset to the Federation. He has tremendous strengths. He has been very impressive as a state association director.”
Whitfield’s mettle was tested during his tenure with the association. The NCHSAA had been a part of the University of North Carolina for almost 100 years, but in 2009, before Whitfield was hired, the NCHSAA began to separate from the UNC System.
“I think Davis did an outstanding job,” Adams said. “I was on the outside looking in, but from what I have seen, the Federation is getting a great person for its job and the NCHSAA is losing one.”
Ron Butler, the Pitt County Schools athletics director and an NCHSAA board member, said Whitfield was the right man at a demanding time.
“Davis has provided the governance and pushed the commitment to provide a ‘wholesome athletic environment,’ ” Butler wrote in an email.
He said Whitfield found ways to return more money to the member schools, upgraded the NCHSAA facility, promoted coaches’ training, improved the realignment process, and strengthened ties among the coaches, athletics directors, athletic trainers, school board association and National Federation.
“Davis’ opportunity to leave us is due to the fact that he has succeeded in making the NCHSAA a national model,” Butler said.
David Gentry, the football coach and athletics director at Murphy High, said Whitfield’s accomplishments are remarkable.
“Davis Whitfield has, in a relatively brief time period, made North Carolina one of the frontrunners in the country in terms of high school athletics,” Gentry said. “It’s no surprise to me that he received a national-level job offer, because of the great job he exemplified here.
“He smoothly worked hard alongside board directors, superintendents, principals and athletic directors, even having worked closely with the governing bodies of North Carolina – and he’s always made decisions in the best interest of the student-athletes of our state. He certainly has left some big shoes to fill.”
Whitfield led the NCHSAA in its 100th anniversary celebration, revised the format of the NCHSAA handbook and wrote a five-year plan.
He was commissioner when a group of schools attempted to oust nonboarding parochial schools from the NCHSAA. After the vote failed, Whitfield set up groups to begin dialogues about the diversity of schools in the NCHSAA.
The NCHSAA later address some concerns with rules addressing attendance and transfers.
Whitfield is a native of Rosewood and grew up in Wayne County. He attended Rosewood High near Goldsboro and played football and baseball there.
After graduating in 1988 from Rosewood, he played baseball at East Carolina for two years before transferring and playing for two years at North Carolina.
He is a 1993 graduate of UNC with a degree in exercise science and received his master’s in sports administration from UNC in 1995.
The NCHSAA has had only three other full-time executive directors – Hap Perry (1948-1966), Simon Terrell (1967-1984) and Adams (1984-2010). UNC professors E.R. Rankin (1924-1942) and C.E. McIntosh (1943-47) preceded Perry as head of the organization.