Gambling exec lands on UNC Board of Trustees



Viva Las Vegas, baby:

The UNC System Board of Governors has elected four new members to Carolina’s Board of Trustees.

Robert “Rob” Bryan III ’93 of Charlotte, Dr. Perrin Jones ’94 of Greenville, Malcolm Turner ’93 of Boston and Ramsey White ’01 of Washington, D.C., will begin four-year terms on July 1.

Turner’s nomination led to a discussion of ethics and conflict of interest concerns before the Board of Governors’ University Governance Committee on Wednesday and again before the full board on Thursday. Turner recently became head of strategy and corporate development for DraftKings, a fantasy sports contest and sports betting operator that includes betting on college sports.

Turner was approved separately from the other three, on an 17-6 vote.[…]

Here is the Draft Kings website.  It’s basically fantasy sports played with cash at stake — instead of just for fun with your buddies.


Members of the BOG participate in a vetting process for new trustees that includes recommendations from chancellors and the chairs of campus boards of trustees as well as interviews with potential candidates. Member Dwight Stone ’73, a former Chapel Hill trustee, told the board Thursday that Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz had submitted five names and that none of the five made it to the slate considered this week.

Stone commented on the amount of time each person involved in putting together the slate spent “collecting information, talking with the chancellors, talking with the board chairs, talking with these individuals. It was a great process, and I applaud that.

“I do not believe that process existed at Chapel Hill. The chancellor put forward, and the board chair, five nominees to the board. Not a single one was moved forward to this group. I find that unbelievable almost. … That input from a chancellor is needed, well thought through. They look through any number of avenues of their needs, both financial, institutional knowledge, et cetera, and obviously, none of those candidates that he put forward were valued enough to be moved to this board. That’s disappointing.”

Board member Doyle Parrish ’76 spoke before Stone, saying: “I think that our chancellors … should have input into the creation and formation of their trustees, their boards. Obviously, we are holding them accountable for their success and their governance on their campus, and I’m not sure that [in] this particular case at UNC-Chapel Hill we fulfilled, in my opinion, that obligation and that process.”

No other members commented.

Trustees Chair Richard Stevens ’70 (’74 MPA, ’74 JD) said he had discussed candidates with BOG member David Powers, Carolina’s liaison to the BOG, and that he was confident those discussed had been considered by BOG members.

During a discussion of Turner’s candidacy on Wednesday, BOG member Art Pope ’78 said that especially with college sports facing changes in marketing restrictions on and possible compensation for athletes, having someone associated with college sports gambling is “not appropriate.”

“I really think it’s in the best interest of the UNC System and UNC-Chapel Hill not to have someone whose profession is advocating directly for sports betting, particularly college sports,” Pope said. “I think this is an issue for all university trustees in our system, with college sports, but unfortunately Chapel Hill has a history with this, and I think it’s especially important for Chapel Hill.” In 1961, some N.C. State basketball players were accused of point shaving in cooperation with gamblers, and one Carolina player was found to have been involved with a gambler. The incidents led to the discontinuance of the poplar Dixie Classic holiday tournament.

Member Steven Long ’82 also concurred with Pope. But Wednesday’s discussion swung in Turner’s favor and ended in a unanimous 5-0 vote to forward his name to the full board. (Pope and Long are not members of the University Governance Committee.)

On Thursday, a number of board members, including those who voted against Turner, commented on his impressive resume, credentials and achievements, calling him an exceptional person. Several pointed out that they were not voting against Turner as an individual but were voting against his nomination because of the industry in which he works.

“Malcolm Turner has excellent qualifications, and absolutely none of my comments are meant to reflect on his ethics,” Pope said, who voted against Turner.

Parrish noted Thursday that Turner’s “resume is outstanding” but that he agreed with Pope and cited “the appearance of a conflict of interest” in discussing his decision to not vote for Turner.

“He won the award for character, scholarship and leadership at UNC,” said member Mark Holton ’79 (’82 JD), who voted for Turner. “By all accounts, he’s maintained that same stature throughout his professional life.” Holton acknowledged a previous comment that, on college sports gambling, “the horse is out of the barn and pretty much running pretty hard as far as I can tell,” but he added, “I am reluctant to disqualify someone, to sort of provide a litmus test. … He is in a controversial industry. … I think character rises above it all.”[…]

Here’s more on Turner’s background:

[…] Turner was athletics director at Vanderbilt University for a year before working for DraftKings. Previously, he was president of the NBA G League; managing director at the Wasserman Media Group; and senior vice president and a member of the leadership team of OnSport, a North Carolina-based sports and entertainment consulting firm. A Morehead-Cain Scholar and Rhodes Scholar finalist, Turner has been on the advisory board of Kenan-Flagler Business School, UNC’s Board of Visitors and the board of the Morehead-Cain Scholarship Fund. He earned joint law and MBA degrees from Harvard University.[…]