Hornets president, Campbell alumnus Whitfield to receive state’s highest civilian honor

Whitfield to receive North Carolina Award for his work in public service

Fred Whitfield, the president, vice chairman, alternate governor and minority owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets and a two-time Campbell University graduate, will be one of six distinguished North Carolinians to receive the North Carolina Award — the state’s highest civilian honor — tonight at the North Carolina Museum of Art. 

Whitfield — who has built an impressive sports executive career encompassing roles as a player, coach, agent, sports marketer and basketball operations administrator — will receive his award for public service. His nonprofit, HoopTee Charities Inc., provides scholarships for disadvantaged young men and women and educational programs nationwide. He also established the Achievements Unlimited Basketball School, benefiting over 15,000 kids in Greensboro and Charlotte over the last 38 years.

Whitfield will join 2023 honorees the Hon. David Price (public service), the Hon. G.K. Butterfield (public service), Marsha White Warren (literature), Patrick Dougherty (fine arts) and Dr. Mandy K. Cohen (science). 

A two-time graduate of Campbell University (earning both his undergraduate business and MBA in the early 1980s), Whitfield was an All-South, team MVP and basketball team captain for the Fighting Camels and was inducted into the University’s sports hall of fame in 1995. He also earned a juris doctorate degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law in 1988, where he served as president of the Student Bar Association.

Whitfield joined Hornets Sports & Entertainment (HSE) as president and chief operating officer in July of 2006, a position he continues to occupy today. In this role, Whitfield oversees all business operations for the Charlotte Hornets, the Hornets Foundation and Spectrum Center. He also is a minority partner in HSE.

Since arriving in Charlotte, Whitfield has overseen the dramatic growth of both the Hornets franchise and the arena. Along with overseeing the team’s rebranding from the Charlotte Bobcats, he led efforts to secure $40 million in renovations for Spectrum Center; the 2019 men’s ACC Tournament, the 2012 Democratic National Convention and the largest donation ever given to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools by a professional sports franchise. He also led the efforts to re-secure the 2019 NBA all-star game after the repeal of HB2.

A native of Greensboro, Whitfield’s portfolio includes the Jordan Brand, a division of Nike, Inc.; the Washington Wizards; Nike Basketball; Falk Associates Management Enterprises and a private law practice.

In recent years, he has also received the Thurgood Marshall Award of Excellence, YMCA George Williams Award, and the key to the City of Greensboro. 

The North Carolina Award was created by the General Assembly in 1961 to recognize significant contributions to the state and nation.

“These individuals have contributed so much to our state and nation thanks to their remarkable careers and achievements,” said Reid Wilson, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Each of them has enhanced the lives of North Carolinians through their impressive accomplishments in public service, literature, science and the arts.”

Since the award’s inception, more than 250 notable men and women have been honored by the state of North Carolina. Past recipients include Selma Burke, William Friday, James Taylor, Etta Baker, Charles Kuralt, Maya Angelou, Lee Smith and Branford Marsalis.