By Michael Gallagher
NASHVILLE, TN — One year and two days.
That’s how long Malcolm Turner’s run as director of athletics at Vanderbilt lasted as the university announced Tuesday morning it had accepted his resignation.
Relatedly, Vanderbilt named former student-athlete and Deputy Athletic Director Candice Storey Lee as both the interim vice chancellor for athletics and interim athletic director, effective immediately.
Lee becomes the first female AD in VU history and the first African-American woman to lead an athletics department in the Southeastern Conference. She has been a part of the Vanderbilt athletics department for 20 years, serving in her current role since 2016.
Turner was hired in December 2018 before officially assuming the position on Feb. 1, 2019. Of the 13 ADs in VU history and hired as full-time employees, Turner is the first to not serve for at least two years.
Turner shook up the Vanderbilt athletics landscape, hiring an unproven first-time head coach in Jerry Stackhouse to rebuild a men’s basketball program left in ruin and giving his unwavering support for football coach Derek Mason, vowing to provide him with resources and support for the football program to be successful.
The underlying reason(s) for the leadership change is not known at this time, but word is circulating that Turner was under fire for his exorbitant spending. In addition, he and the Vanderbilt administration seemingly were butting heads on a number of issues.
Turner no-showed a Vanderbilt basketball reunion banquet and the baseball awards banquet over the weekend.
“In a year of change and transition, it’s been a privilege to be a Commodore and witness firsthand the transformative power of the intersection of higher education and athletics. Vanderbilt Athletics has accomplished a great deal during my time at Vanderbilt, and the university’s athletics program and student-athletes are poised for future success,” Turner said in a statement.
“However, at the onset of this next critical phase of key Athletics initiatives and after considering certain family commitments important to me, I have elected to pursue new opportunities. I fully support what will surely be an exciting next chapter for Vanderbilt Athletics and wish the entire Vanderbilt family the very best going forward. Thank you.”
Susan Wente, VU interim chancellor and provost, said Lee “embodies the Vanderbilt Way, which is our commitment to ensuring that student-athletes excel on the field of play, academically and in life. Candice is a trailblazer. Her unparalleled work ethic, energy and vision, and steadfast commitment to the Commodore family, will only build on our momentum.”
Lee has long been considered a rising star in college athletics, being named to the Adidas “NEXT Up” class in 2018, and the “Power Players: College Sports” list by the Sports Business Journal in 2019. She is also a 2019-20 fellow of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association’s Pressnell Executive Leadership Institute.
“As someone who can personally appreciate the value of Vanderbilt’s unique student-athlete experience, I can say without reservation that we are building on a storied legacy of excellence and achievement — in athletics and in academics,” Lee said. “Vanderbilt is a special place, and this is a very exciting time — we are charting the future course of Vanderbilt Athletics. I am excited to work with our coaches, our staff and our student-athletes as we move forward.”
In the school’s release, Lee states she is creating a plan, which will be announced in the coming weeks, to take a “holistic and integrated approach” to support and enhancing the student-athlete experience, improve fan support, improve facilities, increase fundraising and create new partnerships.