Fred Whitfield, president and chief operating officer for the Hornets Sports & Entertainment, is the 2019 recipient of the UNC Charlotte Distinguished Service Award. He was honored Thursday, May 23, during a special luncheon in the Popp Martin Student Union.
"UNC Charlotte is proud to honor Fred Whitfield as our 2019 Distinguished Service Award recipient," said Chancellor Philip L. Dubois. "He has served Charlotte in exemplary fashion in a number of ways through his work with the Hornets Sports & Entertainment and through his personal involvement with community organizations and institutions."
Since 2006, Whitfield has led all business operations for the Charlotte Hornets and Spectrum Center and has overseen the dramatic growth of both the franchise and arena. Along with overseeing the team’s rebranding in 2014, Whitfield led efforts in recent years that resulted in securing $40 million in renovations for Spectrum Center.
Additionally he helped secure the 2019 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament, hosted the 2012 Democratic National Convention, simultaneously signed an arena naming rights deal with Time Warner Cable and a television broadcast rights deal with Fox Sports and made the largest donation ever given to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools by a professional sports franchise.
Whitfield founded HoopTee Charities Inc, a North Carolina-based nonprofit corporation with a mission to provide scholarships for disadvantaged youth to attend camps and educational-based programs across the country. He also founded and has run the Achievements Unlimited Basketball School in Greensboro and Charlotte for the past 33 years serving more than 10,000 kids, including many who attend on need-based scholarships.
Recently, Whitfield took time out of his busy schedule to visit with Drew Pescaro and his family in the hospital. Pescaro is one of the students who was injured in the April 30 tragedy on campus.
This year’s luncheon featured one of Whitfield’s favorite foods, hamburgers, and his wife’s culinary creation. “Janita’s Stew” is commercially produced and is often served on campus.
The Distinguished Service Award, established in 1987 by the Board of Trustees of UNC Charlotte and the Board of Directors of the University Foundation, honors those who have provided outstanding leadership and exemplary service to the Charlotte community and to the advancement of UNC Charlotte. Each recipient of the award receives a statue of a gold miner, cast from a sculpture by Lorenzo Ghiglieri.