Longtime North Carolina leader Charlie Adams has passed away at the age of 81. As the executive director of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association for 26 years and president of the NFHS in 1997-98, Adams was one of the most visionary leaders in the history of high school sports. Unquestionably, he was the most influential figure in the history of high school sports in North Carolina, first as a three-sport athlete at Cary High School and a three-year standout basketball career at East Carolina University. He then was a coach and athletic director at three North Carolina high schools for eight years before joining the North Carolina association in 1967.
Many of Adams' innovations, ideas and programs during his 43 years at the NCHSAA have been emulated by state associations across the country. He was one of the first to start an extensive corporate sponsorship program. He started the NCHSAA Endowment, which became the most successful program in the country. He developed the innovative Student Services program, NCHSAA Hall of Fame, Scholar-Athlete Program and Scholarship Program. He also was responsible for moving NCHSAA state championships to neutral sites, including college facilities, which enhanced interest and participation in high school sports.
Nationally, Adams was inducted into the NFHS National High School Hall of Fame in 2001. In addition to his time on the Board of Directors, Adams served on the Football Rules Committee, Strategic Planning Committee and Marketing Committee. He was in demand as a speaker and consultant across the country and Canada. During his year as president of the NFHS, Charlie traveled to 37 states to talk about the values of participating in high school sports.