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Robert Gates appointed to Board of Governors

Board also confirms switch to virtual NCAA Convention

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Robert Gates has been appointed to serve as one of five independent members on the NCAA Board of Governors. He will serve a three-year term, which can be renewed for an additional three years.

"It is an honor and pleasure to join the NCAA Board of Governors as one of five independent board members,” said Gates. “I look forward to meeting and working with my new colleagues."

Gates will replace Denis McDonough, who will join the faculty at the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame as a professor of the practice of public policy.

“I have appreciated my time as an independent board member as the NCAA tackles challenges and continues to modernize its rules to benefit student-athletes,” said McDonough.

As former chief of staff for President Barack Obama, McDonough was one of the original independent appointees to the top governing body in April 2019. The members were added to the committee of college and university presidents to provide increased objectivity and fresh perspectives. 

“The NCAA has benefited greatly from Denis’ contributions, and we wish him the best in his new role,” said Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and incoming University of California system president. “We are delighted to have Robert Gates join the board and look forward to his unique perspectives guiding us during this pivotal time in college sports and higher education.”

Gates is the only secretary of defense to be asked to remain in that office by a newly elected president, serving under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Obama was the eighth president Gates served in some role. Before becoming secretary of defense in 2006, Gates was the president of Texas A&M University. Gates also spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional, including with the CIA and National Security Council.

2021 NCAA Convention to be virtual

The board also confirmed the 2021 NCAA Convention will be held virtually Jan. 12-16, 2021, noting the substantial financial challenges to higher education from COVID-19. The virtual format will also allow athletics administrators to attend to matters on campus. Additional details will follow in the coming months.