Monday, August 30, 2010

New UNC system president a big sports fan

While former UNC system president William Friday has been critical of the increase in the importance of winning in sports and the lessened emphasis on academics, the UNC system will have a new president, succeeding Erskine Bowles, who is a big sports fan.

It remains to be seen what tact Tom Ross will take as president of 17-school university system but I know he loves Tar Heel basketball and his dream job is to be Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

They'd be lucky to get Ross, as the UNC system is. I interviewed him when he was director of the state administrative office of the courts and again when he headed up the sentencing commission. He was impressive.

His sentencing commission recommendations have become a model for other states. The commission reformed the sentencing system. As a result, among other things, parole was abolished and criminals now serve more of their originally imposed sentences.

A judge for 17 years, Ross most recently was president of Davidson College, where he went to undergraduate school. He is also a big Davidson sports fan. But he went to UNC law school and seemingly enjoyed Carolina basketball as much as anything. In fact, it is reported that during the time he led the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation in Winston-Salem, he kept a condo in Chapel Hill in order to have a regular place to stay during his visits to watch the Tar Heels play.

He is a democrat but he doesn't seem overly partisan, putting politics above all. He's fair, accomplished, personable, connected and a big supporter of sports. But, I wouldn't be surprised if he, like Friday, concludes that the balance between academics and sports is a bit out of whack.


  1. Interesting info about his love of sports but I have to disagree that he isn't overly partisan - at least the Civitas Institute disagrees. Check out this article entitled New UNC President Has Ties to ACORN. It talks about his "far-left" connections. http://www.nccivitas.org/media/publication-archive/scandal/ross-speedily-confirmed-president-unc-system-acorn-ties-and-all

  2. Thanks Joshua. If that three-part series is accurate, I stand corrected on the "overly partisan" comment. But I still say he is an impressive person and I believe if his leadership on the sentencing commission is any indication, he will be thoughtful and fair. The recommendations from the sentencing commission were praised by people of different political stripes.