Charlie Adams did not necessarily plan to spend a lifetime at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association when he arrived at that organization’s offices to work almost 40 years ago. But the high schools in the state and hundreds of thousands of athletes continue to reap the benefits.Adams has headed the NCHSAA since 1984, only the fifth executive director in the 90-plus years of the Association. During his tenure as executive director, North Carolina has taken its place among the top high school associations in the country.
Under his leadership, the NCHSAA has greatly expanded the services available to member schools. A corporate sponsorship program has enhanced Association programs and has served as a model for other states.
In addition, such innovations as the NCHSAA Hall of Fame, Scholar-Athlete program, a student services program that includes a strong alcohol and other drug education-prevention component, and championships at outstanding facilities all have occurred during Adams’s tenure.
One of the major Adams’ legacies will be the NCHSAA Endowment, conceived and implemented under his leadership. It will help ensure that certain athletic opportunities for student-athletes will always be available. The most successful program of its kind in the nation, the NCHSAA Endowment fund currently has $7.5 million and regularly has returned over $100,000 annually to schools.
He has been a speaker across the country because of his progressive ideas and success at implementing them in North Carolina. Adams also served on the National Federation Board of Directors and was president during 1997-98.
Prior to becoming executive director, Adams served as assistant executive director and supervisor of officials for the Association for some 17 years. He conducted rules clinics in various sports across the state in addition to supervising a number of interscholastic programs.
A native of Cary, where he was an outstanding three-sport athlete, Adams helped lead Cary High to the 1954 NCHSAA Class A state basketball championship under the tutelage of another North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame inductee, the late Simon Terrell.He went on to earn his undergraduate and his master’s degrees at East Carolina University, where he starred in basketball. He coached and taught in Laurel, Delaware, before returning to Cary, compiling a brilliant record as a coach there and then working at Garner High before joining the NCHSAA.
Charlie’s list of previous awards is also impressive. He is a member of the East Carolina University Sports Hall of Fame, a charter member of the Cary High School Athletic Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Athletic Directors Hall of Fame and the prestigious National High School Sports Hall of Fame.“Charlie is the consummate professional,” says Dr. Bill Harrison, superintendent of the Cumberland County schools and a former NCHSAA president. “He knows his business and he knows and appreciates people.” No less a luminary than former University of North Carolina president Dr. William Friday notes, “Charlie Adams richly deserves this recognition. His leadership has preserved the integrity of high school athletics. We are all in his debt.”
By Rick Strunk NCHSAA March 20, 2006.
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