NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Malcolm Turner has resigned as Vanderbilt athletic director after one year on the job, and Candice Storey Lee has been named interim athletic director effectively immediately.
Vanderbilt announced Tuesday the school had accepted Turner’s resignation. Turner was president of the NBA G League when hired in December 2018 by Vanderbilt to replace David Williams. He started Feb. 1, 2019.
Turner fired Bryce Drew as men’s basketball coach last spring and hired Jerry Stackhouse. He also oversaw some immediate improvements to athletics facilities announced last May that included new lighting and sound systems for Memorial Gym, new artificial turf for baseball and a new videoboard at the football stadium along with renovated restrooms.
He had been working on a plan to update Vanderbilt’s athletic facilities, including the football stadium whose last major renovation was in 1981. That is expected to be announced soon.
“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,” Turner said in a statement.
Stackhouse called the moves surprising on Tuesday while meeting with reporters ahead of Wednesday night’s game with No. 18 LSU. He had a meeting scheduled for Thursday with Turner to talk about plans for athletics. But the coach said nothing changes for him with his paychecks coming from Vanderbilt. Stackhouse said Lee was with Turner throughout his interview process before being hired.
“The fact she’s still right here in place ready to step up and step in I think that’s a great thing for us and a great thing for the university,” Stackhouse said. “We’re just going to continue to follow her leadership and try to continue to get these student-athletes the best things we can give them on the court and off the court.”
Lee played basketball at Vanderbilt and has three different degrees from the university. She now is the first female athletic director in any capacity at Vanderbilt and the first black woman AD in the Southeastern Conference.
“Candice embodies the Vanderbilt Way, which is our commitment to ensuring that student-athletes excel on the field of play, academically and in life,” interim chancellor and provost Susan R. Wente said in a statement. “Candice is a trailblazer. Her unparalleled work ethic, energy and vision, and steadfast commitment to the Commodore family, will only build on our momentum.”
Wente did not say how long Lee would work as the interim athletic director, though she appears to have the support of campus leaders to have the “interim” tag removed.
Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin, who led the Commodores to their second national title last June. Corbin said he has worked with Lee for 18 years, watching her grow from a student-athlete to a strong leader in college athletics.
“Where she has shined most is through transitional times in our department,” Corbin said. “Candice is intuitive, communicates extremely well, is unafraid of challenges and operates with great care around people. She is my friend, a trusted colleague and someone I have leaned on through our time here at Vanderbilt. I look forward to working with her in her new role.”
John Ingram, chair of the Vanderbilt board of trust’s athletics committee, has also worked closely with Lee for years.
“She is a tremendous asset to our athletics program and an inspiration to the entire Commodore Nation,” Ingram said.
Lee was a captain of the women’s basketball team before graduating in 2000. She earned a master’s degree in counseling from Vanderbilt in 2002 and got her doctorate in higher education administration in 2012.
Lee was Vanderbilt’s senior woman administrator since 2004 and had been deputy director since 2016. She oversees the daily operations of the athletics department and has been the administrator for football and women’s basketball programs. she is a former member of the NCAA women’s basketball rules committee, a former chair of the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse committee and a former chair of the SEC senior woman administrators.
“Vanderbilt is a special place, and this is a very exciting time — we are charting the future course of Vanderbilt athletics,” Lee said. “I am excited to work with our coaches, our staff and our student-athletes as we move forward.”
Lee will put together a group of Vanderbilt leaders and coaches to help with launching a new plan for athletics. She has been helping develop that plan with Turner.
“We’re examining everything we do to support our student-athletes, from improving the fan experience and our facilities, to upping our game on fundraising, to developing new partnerships,” Lee said. “The plan will establish the conditions that our student-athletes need, today and in the future, to compete and win at the highest levels.”