Wingate University president Jerry McGee is a rare breed. While leading Wingate to become a top-level school among small universities, he’s also a top-level referee for college football. In January, he will work the top game — the BCS title game between Florida and Oklahoma. Then, according to an article by his son Ryan in ESPN – The Magazine, he will hang up his cleats and find some other use for those yellow hankies. McGee, 65, has worked side jobs on the sidelines since he was a student. He’s been refereeing on the college level for 35 years, with 404 games and 20 bowl games to his credit.
No wonder McGee has remained so cool when facing the pressure of running a college and dealing with Baptist controversies through the years. Baptists with an agenda can be about as unruly as a partisan football crowd, but McGee is quite accustomed to seeing the reality of a situation, making a call, and sticking to it: when it became clear that the Baptist colleges in North Carolina could no longer count on getting approval of needed trustees from the Baptist State Convention, Wingate was the first to announce that it would do whatever necessary to appoint its own trustees. Recently, McGee emphasized the importance of defending the “fragile freedoms” of Baptist higher education.
I’ll be watching the BCS title game with special interest now — while hoping that McGee doesn’t give up his day job anytime soon.
Professor of Old Testament at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, North Carolina, and the Contributing Editor and Curriculum Writer at Good Faith Media.