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Erving declines UMass position

Decision leaves trustee opening

SPRINGFIELD -- Basketball Hall of Famer Julius ''Dr. J" Erving has declined to join the University of Massachusetts board of trustees after initially saying his appointment five months ago was a ''blessing."

Erving, who played for UMass-Amherst and the Philadelphia 76ers, did not attend any board meetings or take the oath of office within the required 90 days of his five-year appointment.

Governor Mitt Romney planned to reappoint him, but last week Erving told the governor's office he was not interested in the job, The Republican of Springfield reported.

''He has decided not to be reappointed," said Shawn Feddeman, a spokeswoman for Romney. ''We respect Mr. Erving's decision. We will certainly name someone new to the UMass board of trustees."

A spokeswoman for Erving, who lives in Longwood, Fla., said he was not available for comment.

The board oversees operation of the 60,000-student system, selects the president and chancellors, approves academic programs, sets student tuition and fees, and awards tenure.

''We understand it's not possible for Mr. Erving to participate as a board of trustee member at this time," said William Wright, a spokesman for the UMass president's office. Wright said Erving has been an active alumnus over the years.

Erving starred for UMass until he left in 1971 to play in the American Basketball Association. He retired from the National Basketball Association in 1987 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993. He returned to UMass and earned his bachelor's degree in 1986.

When Romney appointed him to the board in October, Erving said it was ''truly a blessing" for him to have a role in bringing the system closer to its full potential.

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