The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) annually bestows the highest accolade in high school sports and activities upon 12 individuals with enshrinement into the NFHS National High School Hall of Fame. The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) is proud to announce that pioneering IHSA and NFHS administrator Charles “C.W.” Whitten will be inducted posthumously into the NFHS National High School Hall of Fame as a part of the 2019 class.
Whitten is the 29th individual representing the IHSA to be honored with induction in the NFHS National High School Hall of Fame and will be honored at an enshrinement ceremony banquet on Sunday, June 30, 2019 as a part of the 2019 NFHS Summer Meeting in Indianapolis. Whitten, who passed away in 1957 at age 86, will be represented at the event by his great-granddaughter, Sharon Miller of Joliet. The 2019 Summer Meeting marks the 100th in the NFHS’s history.
“It is a fitting tribute for C.W. Whitten to be enshrined at the NFHS’s centennial celebration,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson, “He made indelible contributions to the IHSA, NFHS and high school sports throughout his career. It is a long overdue honor.”
Inductees must be nominated by their respective state association and categorized based on their contributions as Athletes, Coaches, Officials, Administrators or in the Fine Arts. Whitten is the fifth IHSA enshrinee to represent the Administrator category. With the enshrinements of Whitten and Bob Gardner this summer, all of the past Executive Directors of the NFHS will now be in the National High School Hall of Fame.
IHSA Assistant Executive Director Scott Johnson wrote a biography of Whitten, "Association Work
," that was distributed to state association executives at the 99th NFHS Summer meeting last June.
"C. W. Whitten was a skillful administrator who was held in reverence by colleagues from other states," Johnson said. "With his background as a college professor and high school principal, Whitten's only measure of the association's effectiveness was its value to the overall educational program. He led with this philosophy, and others followed."
Hired by the Illinois High School Athletic Association in 1922, Whitten was the first executive officer of any state high school association. A few years later, when the leadership of National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations sought to promote its mission more effectively, they leaned on Whitten to guide their group as well, even though the job came with no salary. From 1927 to 1940, Whitten ran both organizations simultaneously out of the IHSAA office in downtown Chicago.
As head of the National Federation, Whitten was instrumental in eliminating college sponsorship of high school events, which were often conducted without regard for the rules and values of the state high school associations. A long, public battle with University of Chicago athletic director Amos Alonzo Stagg ultimately proved that a federation of state associations was an idea whose time had come.
In 1927, Whitten became the first high school representative on a national rules-making body when he joined the NCAA track and field rules committee. He then lobbied for high school representation on the basketball committee, which was filled by his assistant, H. V. Porter. In 1932, when the NCAA football committee refused to seat any high school members, Whitten and Porter led the drive to write a new set of football rules designed specifically for high school competition. The rules-writing machinery that became vital to the National Federation's existence is still in place years later.
"As important as Whitten was to the development of the Illinois High School Association," said Johnson, "he was even more important on the national scene. He had the fortitude to stand up for association control of high school events even in the face of some very negative publicity. The high school sports landscape might be very different today without Whitten's pioneering leadership."
The other members of the 2019 Hall of Fame Class include: — Seimone Augustus (Athlete, Louisiana), Damon Bailey (Athlete, Indiana), Dusty Baker (Athlete, California), Derrick Brooks (Athlete, Florida), Tracey Fuchs (Athlete, New York), Jerry Boatner (Coach, Mississippi), Joe Gilbert (Coach, Oklahoma), D. W. Rutledge (Coach, Texas), Ralph Stout (Official, Tennessee), Bob Gardner (Administrator), and Ginny Honomichl (Contributor, Kansas). Click here for NFHS release on HOF class
Charles “C.W.” Whitten is the 29th NFHS National High School Hall of Fame member from Illinois, joining:
Norm Geske (Official from Buffalo Grove, inducted in 1982)
H.V. Porter (IHSA & NFHS Staff, 1982)
Arthur Trout (Coach at Centralia, 1982)
Dwight "Dike" Eddleman (Athlete at Centralia, 1983)
Vergil Fletcher (Coach at Collinsville, 1983)
Milt Sprunger (IHSA Staff, 1983)
Fred "Brick" Young (Official from Bloomington, 1983)
Harold "Red" Grange (Athlete at Wheaton, 1984)
Bart Connor (Athlete at Niles West, 1986)
John Griffith (Special contributor from Chicago, 1986)
Charles Farina (Coach at Leyden & Gordon Tech, 1987)
Quinn Buckner (Athlete at Thornridge, 1989)
Gordon Gillespie (Coach at Joliet Catholic, 1989)
Jackie Joyner-Kersee (Athlete at East St. Louis Lincoln, 1989)
Keith Parker (Official from Granite City, 1990)
David Robertson (Coach at New Trier, 1991)
William "Red" Schmitt (Coach at Granite City, 1993)
Tom Frederick (IHSA & NFHS Staff, 1994)
Larry Wilcoxen (Official from Walnut, 1994)
Ola Bundy (IHSA Staff, 1996)
Dick Deitz (Official from McLeansboro, 1996)
Joe Newton (Coach at York, 2004)
Dana Miroballi (Athlete at Wheeling, 2009)
Jan Heiteen (Fine Arts, Coach at Downers Grove South, 2012)
Haig Nighohossian (Official from Granite City, 2013)
Peg Kopec (Coach at Wheaton St. Francis, 2016)
Bill Laude (Official from Frankfort, 2017)
Dorothy Gaters (Coach at Marshall, 2018)