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Former MEAC Commissioner named AD at Averett

April 27, 2004

Charles Harris, a native Virginian with more than 25 years experience as a college and university athletic administrator, was named director of athletics at Averett University April 26 by President Dr. Richard Pfau. Harris replaces Vesa Hiltunen who retired after 28 years of service to the University.
Charles Harris

“Charles Harris emerged early in our search as an outstanding leader who has accomplished much in his career,” Pfau said. “He has built strong and successful academic and athletic combinations at University of Pennsylvania in the Ivy League and Arizona State in the Pac-10. His is a compelling presence, and I look forward to the contributions he will make to the entire University as a member of our leadership team.”

Harris has served as director of athletics at the University of Pennsylvania and Arizona State University, and as the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. He has also chaired the NCAA Division I Management Council, the most senior position not held by a college or university president in the NCAA hierarchy, and has served on the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee. Presently, he is a partner with Excel Development Systems, Inc., a private management and consulting firm based out of Greensboro, NC that provides strategic advising and crisis management in the sports field.

"I have known Charles Harris for six years and worked with him on the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee,” said Lee Fowler, director of athletics at North Carolina State University. “He is known for his integrity and is highly regarded by his peers. He has excellent leadership skills and is a great communicator. I'm sure he will do a great job at Averett University."

In the spring of 2002, Harris withdrew from acceptance of the athletics directorship at Dartmouth College when a discrepancy in a resume from 1979 was reported.

“I sacrificed short term aspirations for long term values,” said Harris of the 1979 incident. “I apologize to the entire athletic community for failing to live up to the standards that make athletics so important in any university community. For me, the most important lesson learned is there is only one way to do anything; that is the right way. In that regard, I am very appreciative of Averett viewing my past indiscretion in the context of an overall body of work in athletics that has spanned 25 years.”

Said Dr. Pfau of the Averett decision, “When Charles told me about the situation, we talked with the Dean at Dartmouth and then asked the advice of Averett’s faculty committee on intercollegiate athletics, who recommended that we go ahead. The final decision to hire him is mine, based on his complete record and great promise for the future.”

Administrators and coaches throughout the NCAA have offered praise for Harris and for Averett’s decision. The University received congratulations from officials at UVA, Dartmouth, NC State, Syracuse and other Division I schools and associations.

“Charles is well versed on the intricacies of intercollegiate athletics at every level of competition and has excellent contacts throughout the country,” said Terry Holland, former head men’s basketball coach for the Virginia Cavaliers. “He should be an effective and valued colleague for each member of the Averett community and a tremendous asset to their athletic programs.

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