One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for April 7, 2015.
My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
When you are a college athletic director you know when you get a phone call from another athletic director the day after your team just played each other it usually isn’t good. For me that wasn’t the case with a friend named Steve Poston who has been the athletic director at Wingate University since 2001.
Steve Poston came to Wingate in 1972 as Baseball Coach and faculty member. Since then Steve has held numerous administrative positions at Wingate University including vice-president for student affairs, vice-president for administration and director of the Matthews Center, director of admissions (four years) and vice-president of enrollment management (six years). If there was ever anyone that can understand all that takes place on a college campus it is Steve.
Steve and I would often call each other after we had lost to each in that years football game and say congrats. I never really had that relationship with another athletic director but that was just one part of our friendship. Steve had been at Wingate when they started football and I leaned on him for advice and guidance when UNC Pembroke started football in 2007. From there our friendship continued to grow. In 2011 we both were selected to serve on the NCAA Division II Management Council together. Steve just finished up his four-year term in January 2015. I left in 2013 when I moved from athletic director to chief of staff at UNC Pembroke. The Division II Management Council is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Division II so there were lots of meetings.
Steve like many leaders has been someone who has given back to his profession and community. He has been very active participant in Union County (NC) civic and community affairs, and has held many leadership positions over the years. He has been vice-president and chairman of the Union County Community Arts Council. Steve has also served in the Monroe Rotary Club, Union County Habitat for Humanity, Union County Job Ready Partnership and the Blooming Arts Festival. He is a member of the Lake Park Christian Academy board of trustees and the Union County United Way board.
Those trips with Steve to Indianapolis, IN 4-5 times a year for Management Council meetings has us getting to know each other a little better each time. We sat in meetings, airports, and had dinner together. We discussed sensitive personnel issues with each other, we talked about who would be good coaching candidates for various openings we each had, Steve would offer communication strategies for UNC Pembroke to strengthen its football ties to members of the South Atlantic Conference, and we would talk about our respective presidents/chancellors and their importance to the success of our respective athletic departments. We both knew we worked for great leaders that gave us good advice but also listened to ours.
Steve’s president was Dr. Jerry McGee who will be retiring next month after leading Wingate as president since 1992. Dr. McGee has become a friend of mine in thanks to large part to Steve.
The Friend – STEVE POSTON
The Friend of the Friend – JERRY MCGEE
Jerry McGee is a rarity as a college president that for most of his tenure at Wingate he watched another university’s football team play on Saturday and not Wingate’s. The reason for not watching Wingate games was that Jerry McGee was a college football official. Jerry McGee refereed NCAA Division I college football games for 36 years (1973-2009) 404 games in totality, with 20 of them being bowl games. He retired as a college official by being part of the officiating crew that called the 2009 BCS national championship game between Alabama and Texas.
Dr. McGee is N.C.’s longest-serving college or university president. He received his undergraduate degree from East Carolina University, holds a master’s degree from Appalachian State University and a doctorate from Nova University. Under his leadership Wingate University has been recognized as one of the best small liberal arts colleges in the Southeast and the premier small private university in North Carolina. During Dr. McGee’s 23-year presidency, Wingate’s enrollment increased by more than 125 percent, achieved university status, became a doctoral-granting institution, began a school of pharmacy, built more than 35 new campus facilities, and added campuses in south Charlotte (Ballantyne) and Hendersonville, N.C.
He was a busy leader but he always had time for me when I needed advice or guidance especially as it pertained to college football. I met with him often at NCAA conventions or trips to Wingate’s campus to get advice on how best to navigate the scheduling dilemmas that UNC Pembroke had in football as an NCAA Division II independent. His advice to me was always spot on.
Jerry McGee is a member of the South Atlantic Conference Athletic Hall of Fame, Wingate University Athletic Hall of Fame, the Union County Business Leaders Hall of Fame and North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. In 2008, he was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of East Carolina, where he received his undergraduate degree.
Wingate next leader will be Dr. Rhett Brown and he will have some big shoes to fill.
The good news is Rhett Brown has been at Wingate University for the last 26 years and since 2009 he has been Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment. I hope Dr. Brown was listening closely to the advice that Jerry McGee gave him.
If he did those shoes will fit just fine.