Knight commission co-founder Bill Friday dies
by Rachel George, USA TODAY Sports
Bill Friday, a longtime president of the University of North Carolina system and co-founder of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, has died in Chapel Hill. He was 92.
The passing of the North Carolina icon Friday comes on the 219th birthday of the University of North Carolina.
Friday served as the president of the UNC system from 1956 to 1986. After graduating from UNC’s law school in 1948, Friday began his career in the university system as assistant dean of students. In 1951, he became assistant to Gordon Gray, the president of the system which at the time included three universities – North Carolina, N.C. State and Woman’s College, which is now UNC-Greensboro.
He was named president in 1956 after serving as secretary for a year.
“Bill Friday lived a life that exemplified everything that has made our University – and the state of North Carolina – great,” said UNC President Tom Ross in a statement. “He was a man of unquestioned honor and integrity who devoted a lifetime of extraordinary leadership and service to the University and state he loved so much. He also was a man of deep courage and conviction who never backed away from doing the right thing for our students, our faculty or our citizens. We have truly lost one of North Carolina’s most special treasures.”
During his time as president, Friday oversaw the racial desegregation of the university as well as the expansion of the system to include 16 schools.
“North Carolina has lost one of its most remarkable citizens in Bill Friday. His influence on public higher education in our state and across the nation is legendary,” said UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp in a statement. “In a lifetime devoted to public service, Bill Friday was committed to providing access to high-quality, affordable higher education to North Carolina students. He was tireless in his efforts to underscore the importance of higher education to people from all walks of life, as well as to our state’s future prosperity.”
After his retirement, he co-founded the Knight Commission in 1989. The organization has fought for decades to rein in the commercialization of intercollegiate … [For more on Knight commission co-founder Bill Friday dies at age 92, click here.]