GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) _ Charles S. Harris, former athletic director at Arizona State, was named Thursday as commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

Harris assumes his new role on July 15. He succeeds Ken Free, whose contract expires June 30.

``Harris has a breadth of strengths and abilities that are ideal for the MEAC, as it moves forward into the competition of the next decade,'' said Edward Fort, president of North Carolina A&T. Fort is the chairman of the council of presidents for the conference.

At Arizona State, Harris served for 10 years as athletic director. He resigned from that post last June 28. During his tenure, he is credited with initiating, planning, financing and funding efforts for major projects with a construction cost of $20 million.

Also, Harris helped raise the program's academic performance level. At its peak, 40 percent of the school's student-athletes earned a grade point average of 3.0. He did not leave the school without some controversy, however.

Harris dropped minor sports at Arizona State to trim the budget, while funding sources dried up and a drop in football attendance cost the university $2 million a year in ticket revenue.

Prior to his job at Arizona State, Harris was athletic director at Pennsylvania for eight years. While there, he brought the athletic budget out of the red, and he initiated and completed a capital fund drive for $3 million in projects.

Harris also served as an assistant director of athletics at Michigan.

The MEAC consists of 10 members: Bethune-Cookman, Coppin State, Delaware State; Florida A&M, Hampton, Howard, Morgan State, North Carolina A&T, Maryland-Eastern Shore and South Carolina State.

``I feel this collection of institutions represents an underappreciated asset in college athletics,'' Harris said Thursday. ``I am convinced the commitment, goals and expectations of the presidents of these institutions are both realistic and achievable.''