FOUR QUESTIONS: A CONVERSATION WITH…DAVIS WHITFIELD
Davis Whitfield is currently commissioner of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association and has been in that role since January of 2010. He has been named as the chief operating officer of the National Federation of State High School Associations, based in Indianapolis, a position he will take on July 1.
An outstanding athlete at Rosewood High School, he played collegiate baseball at East Carolina before transferring to the University of North Carolina, from which he graduated. He came to the NCHSAA after a stint with the Atlantic Coast Conference office and has initiated a number of innovations in an effort to make the NCHSAA “the national model” among high school associations.
What do you find most appealing or intriguing about your upcoming role with the National Federation?
The most appealing aspect of moving to the National Federation is working on the national level to spread the message of what education-based athletics offers young people…..the opportunity to share the core values of sportsmanship, citizenship, teamwork, integrity, fair competition. Using a national platform to proclaim the educational value of high school athletics is most intriguing.
What do you see as the major challenges ahead for the National Federation?
Here are a number of challenges that I know are ahead:
1. Concussion and health and safety legislation that is placing a personnel and financial strain on our schools on a national level. 2. Outside club and independent teams that continue to promise scholarships and opportunities that sometimes eliminate the high school experience of some students. 3. Government entities that interfere with the administration and policies and procedures of high school athletics based on one specific incident in their respective area or state. 4. Television and outside events that, if not managed properly, can dominate the focus of education-based athletics. 5. Other outside influences (for instance, parents, companies, donors/boosters) that attempt to negatively influence the leadership of our high schools into deviating from the mission and purpose of high school athletics.
What is one thing that you are particularly pleased about that has been accomplished by the NCHSAA during your tenure as commissioner?
That the membership knows we will listen and that we will continue to work until the best possible solution to an issue is found. We have not shielded ourselves from controversial matters, we have tackled them head-on and we will continue to operate in this manner until we find the optimal solution. And, revenue sharing—we have also returned a large amount of money to the schools in a number of different ways that I think has been very beneficial.
What would you like to say to the member schools?
I have truly enjoyed serving the member schools of the NCHSAA for the last five years, and I believe we have accomplished a great deal in my time here by working together. We have wonderful leadership on our Board of Directors and in our membership that is willing to tackle tough issues on behalf of our student-athletes.
I consider it a true honor to have held this position and I believe the vision of the Association ‘to be the national model’ is well within reach.
Keep working together to achieve greatness….we want our young people to be lifelong learners and to never give up on the playing field, court, or arena. So we should never give up in our quest to provide the best experiences for lifelong memories.