History professor Gregory Downs has a brother, Wil, who played college basketball at the Division I level. “And he never ceases to remind me of that,” Greg says.
Today, Greg, who had been recruited by Division III schools out of high school, can do some bragging of his own, as the newly appointed faculty athletics representative for UC Davis’ NCAA program.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association requires each of its member schools to have a faculty athletics representative, or FAR. The UC Davis position description lays out two primary roles: oversee issues related to student-athlete welfare and protect the academic integrity of the institution as it pertains to intercollegiate athletics.
Successor to Carrell
Economics professor Scott Carrell is the outgoing UC Davis faculty athletics representative, after being appointed to a succession of two- and three-year terms for a total of 10 years.
In a letter, Chancellor Gary S. May thanked Carrell for his service, especially the role he played in creating and implementing Aggie EVO (shorthand for student-athletes’ evolution), a program emphasizing four keys to future success after UC Davis: skills, knowledge, opportunities and tools.
“As FAR, you truly went above and beyond expectations,” May said. “You helped UC Davis Intercollegiate Athletics raise the bar when it comes to compliance, integrity and excellence.”
The chancellor called for applications for a successor in February, for a two-year term ending June 30, 2025. He worked with a recruitment advisory committee, then appointed Downs, who took up the post Monday (May 15) to work alongside Carrell through his last day, June 30.
Chancellor May said Downs will attend the May 23-24 Big West Conference meeting as UC Davis’ FAR.
Belmont and Yale
Wil Howard Downs played for Belmont University, in Nashville, Tennessee, and today officiates NCAA college basketball, primarily in the Southeast Conference. Greg Downs went to Yale, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and volunteering as a basketball coach at a local school, Hillhouse High. Later in life he coached junior high school and high school basketball in Tennessee and Massachusetts.
In his academic life, he went on to earn a Master of Arts degree and Ph.D. in history, the former from Northwestern University, the latter from the University of Pennsylvania. He taught at the City University of New York’s City College and Graduate Center before joining UC Davis as an associate professor in 2015.
According to his faculty page, he studies the political and cultural history of the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries, in particular the transformative impact of the Civil War, the end of slavery and the role of military force in establishing new meanings of freedom.
He is the author of several books on the Civil War, including The Second American Revolution: The Civil War-Era Struggle Over Cuba and the Rebirth of the American Republic (2019). As a public historian, he co-wrote the National Park Service’s “Theme Study on Reconstruction” and helped edit the park service’s handbook on Reconstruction.
He also writes fiction, including Spit Baths (2006), a collection of short stories that won the Flannery O'Connor Award in 2006. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Downs has been busy the last several years watching his teenage daughters compete in volleyball and softball at Albany High School, in local leagues and on travel teams. “While I’m not looking forward to them graduating and leaving for college, I’m looking forward to being able to go to more UCD games,” he said.
Dateline UC Davis welcomes news of appointments of various kinds for faculty and staff, for publication in Org Chart (formerly titled Transitions). Send information to firstname.lastname@example.org.