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NCAA elects independent leaders to top board

5 new NCAA Board of Governors members will add objectivity and diverse perspectives to governance process

The NCAA Board of Governors on Tuesday selected the five independent members who will join college and university presidents on the board that sets the future direction for college sports. These five leaders will provide increased objectivity and fresh perspectives to the Association’s highest-ranking governance body. The newly elected members are:

  • Kenneth Chenault, chairman and managing director of General Catalyst and former chairman and chief executive officer of American Express Co.
  • Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities and former president of the universities of Michigan and Iowa.
  • Grant Hill, former college and NBA athlete; current broadcaster and NBA team owner.
  • Denis McDonough, senior principal and chair of the Rework America Task Force for the Markle Foundation and former chief of staff to President Barack Obama.
  • Vivek Murthy, 19th surgeon general of the United States.

“College sports and higher education will undoubtedly benefit from the diverse perspectives that each new member brings as we all look for the best ways to enhance the student-athlete experience,” said G.P. “Bud” Peterson, chair of the board and president of Georgia Tech. “With the addition of these independent members, the board structure is closely aligned with best practices in nonprofit and higher education to include public voices in the highest governing body.”

The move is one in a series of reforms aimed at strengthening public trust in the NCAA as an effective leader and regulator in college sports. Representatives from schools and conferences in all three NCAA divisions voted in January to add independent members to the board.

That broadened representation on the NCAA Board of Governors was among the recommendations of the Commission on College Basketball, an independent group led by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, which formed in response to a federal investigation into corruption in college basketball. The commission recommended solutions to the NCAA after examining the complex issues within the sport.

The board contracted a third-party search firm, Heidrick & Struggles, to filter and vet more than 250 candidates during the nomination process. NCAA members and the public submitted more than 150 nominations. The Board of Governors Executive Committee, which includes presidents and chancellors from all three divisions, served as the nominating committee and provided recommendations to the full board for approval.

Coleman, a member of the Commission on College Basketball, will serve in a one-year transitional term. In the spring of 2020, the Executive Committee will nominate an individual for a full term to succeed her.

The other Board of Governors members include 16 college and university presidents and chancellors who represent each division as voting members; the chairs of the Division I Council and the Division II and III Management Councils as ex-officio nonvoting members; and the NCAA president as an ex-officio nonvoting member. The board members, including the five independent voting members, are volunteers who are not compensated for their time. The independent members’ first meeting is in August.

NCAA Board of Governors Independent Members


Kenneth Chenault

Chairman and managing director, General Catalyst

Kenneth I. Chenault is chairman and a managing director of the venture capital firm General Catalyst. As a managing director of the firm, he focuses on investing in fast-growing companies that have the potential to become large fundamental institutions. He also provides invaluable guidance to portfolio companies, particularly to those with an eye toward global markets and responsible innovation, as they scale their teams and products. As chairman, Chenault leverages his renowned leadership abilities and experience to continue to evolve General Catalyst into a formidable and enduring firm.

Before joining General Catalyst, Chenault was chairman and chief executive officer of American Express Co., a position he held from 2001 to 2018. He joined American Express in 1981 as director of strategic planning and served subsequently in a number of increasingly senior positions, including vice chairman and president and chief operating officer, until his appointment as CEO. Under his leadership, American Express built one of the world’s largest customer loyalty programs — Membership Rewards — and earned global recognition as a leader in customer service. Upon Chenault’s retirement from American Express, Warren Buffett, the company’s largest shareholder, stated, “Ken’s been the gold standard for corporate leadership and the benchmark that I measure others against.”

Chenault is recognized as one of the business world’s experts on brands and brand management. He has been honored by multiple publications, including Fortune magazine, which named him as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders in its inaugural list in 2014.

Chenault serves on the boards of Airbnb, Facebook, the Harvard Corp. and numerous nonprofi organizations, including the Smithsonian Institution’s Advisory Council for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. He also serves on the board of trustees for NYU Langone Health.

Chenault holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor of Arts in history from Bowdoin. He has also received honorary degrees from several universities and awards from a wide variety of civic, social service and community organizations.

He and his wife, Kathryn, live in New York City, and they have two sons.

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Mary Sue Coleman

President, Association of American Universities

Dr. Mary Sue Coleman is a national leader in higher education. Time magazine named her one of the nation’s “10 best college presidents,” and the American Council on Education honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

As president of the Association of American Universities, Coleman focuses on maintaining a strong system of academic research and education between leading research universities. Before joining the AAU, Coleman was president of Michigan and Iowa.

Coleman spent her career as a faculty member and administrator at New Mexico, North Carolina and Kentucky. In 2010, President Barack Obama asked Coleman to help launch the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. She also was named co-chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Coleman previously served on the public boards of Meredith Corp., Johnson & Johnson, and Gaylord Container Corp. She also has experience serving as a member of the boards of trustees of The Kavli Foundation, the Mayo Clinic Foundation, the Gates Cambridge Trust, the Society for Science and the Public, and the University of Denver.

Coleman graduated with a doctorate in biochemistry from North Carolina and a bachelor’s in chemistry from Grinnell.

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Grant Hill

Former college and NBA athlete; current broadcaster and NBA team owner

One of the most accomplished NBA and college players of his generation, Grant Hill was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the 2018 class. The seven-time NBA All-Star and two-time NCAA champion has made the successful transition from 19 years as a professional athlete to leadership in business along with several television broadcasting roles.

Shortly after he entered the NBA in 1994, Hill established Hill Ventures, a private company through which he has successfully invested in commercial real estate ventures, including several multifamily complexes and other commercial real estate in Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and Washington, D.C. Hill is a featured speaker before business, academic and large sales audiences addressing a range of topics including the NBA, the importance of teamwork, the private equity business, art, music and contemporary culture.

Hill also has significant and important broadcasting roles with CBS Sports, Turner Sports and NBA TV. In 2015, Hill was added as a game analyst for the NCAA Final Four and national championship game. He joined Bill Raftery and Jim Nantz to call games together throughout the tournament. Additionally, Hill has substantial on-site responsibilities during the TNT broadcast of the NCAA March to the Final Four and their coverage of the NBA Playoffs. Hill is also an NBA TV studio analyst on “NBA GameTime.” During those broadcasts, Hill opines on issues of the past week in the NBA and provides commentary on that night’s 10-12 NBA games while in progress. Hill also serves as an occasional studio analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.”

Before the NBA, Hill was two-time national champion at Duke. He spent four years playing for the Blue Devils and was inducted into the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2016 for his contributions to the program. Hill was named the 2017 recipient of the NCAA President’s Gerald R. Ford Award, recognizing his significant leadership as an advocate for college sports.

Hill holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Duke. He lives in Orlando with his wife, Tamia, a seven-time Grammy-nominated singer, and their two daughters.

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Denis McDonough

Senior principal, Markle Foundation; Former chief of staff to President Barack Obama

Denis McDonough is a seasoned government and public policy official.

At the Markle Foundation, McDonough chairs the Rework America Task Force, a national initiative to transform the labor market so all Americans can thrive in the digital economy.

McDonough teaches a global policy seminar as an executive fellow at Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs. He is a senior advisor for technology and global policy for Macro Advisory Partners, a strategic advisory firm that helps to navigate the intersection of global markets, geopolitics and policy.

McDonough began his government career as a staff member for the Committee on International Relations for the U.S. House of Representatives. He served as principal deputy national security advisor before being named chief of staff for President Barack Obama.

A member of the Saint John’s (Minnesota) football team that won two conference titles in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, McDonough received an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship in 1992.

He has a master’s in foreign service from Georgetown and graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s in history and Spanish from Saint John’s.

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Vivek Murthy

19th surgeon general of the United States

Vivek Murthy, M.D., MBA, is a physician, public health advocate, teacher and entrepreneur who discovered the art of healing watching his parents run a medical clinic in Miami.

Murthy served as the 19th surgeon general of the United States from 2014 to 2017. As America’s doctor, he was responsible for communicating the best available scientific information to the public about health. He published the first Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, and the first federal report on e-cigarettes and youth. Murthy also launched the TurnTheTideRx campaign to call the nation’s health professionals together to address America’s opioid crisis. As the vice admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Murthy commanded a uniformed service of 6,600 public health officers serving the most underserved and vulnerable populations in over 800 locations domestically and abroad. He worked with thousands of Commissioned Corps officers to strengthen the Corps and protect the nation from Ebola and Zika and to respond to major hurricanes, frequent health care shortages in rural communities, and the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Before serving as surgeon general, Murthy co-founded VISIONS Worldwide, an HIV/AIDS education program in India and the United States, and the Swasthya project, a community health partnership in rural India that trains women to be health providers and educators. He also co-founded Doctors for America, a network of doctors and medical students advocating for improvements to the U.S. health care system, and TrialNetworks, a technology company that works to improve research collaboration and enhance the efficiency of clinical trials around the world. He has conducted research on vaccines and cancer clinical trials and has cared for thousands of patients and trained hundreds of residents and medical students during his medical career.

Murthy received his medical degree and Master of Business Administration from Yale. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemical sciences from Harvard. After completing residency training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, he joined the faculty as an internal medicine physician and instructor.

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