My morning plans and work schedule have been temporarily interrupted when i opened an email from my Vanderbilt Commodore Athletics website. It was some of the best news i’ve received for a while.
The email was from the two head honchos at Vanderbilt:
Dear Commodore Nation,
Thank you for your continued support of Vanderbilt Athletics. We write to inform you of a major announcement. Candice Storey Lee, former standout student-athlete and three-time Vanderbilt University graduate, has been named vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director at Vanderbilt after serving in the role on an interim basis since February.
Today’s announcement firmly cements Candice’s place in Vanderbilt and college sports history. She is Vanderbilt’s first female athletic director and the first African American woman to head a Southeastern Conference athletics program. The appointment places her in the upper echelon of college athletics as one of only five women currently leading a Power Five program.
Candice is perfectly positioned to lead our athletics program to new heights of success on and off the field of play. She is the living embodiment of the university’s values and aspirations, which are grounded in our commitment both to academic excellence and to preparing our student-athletes to play and win in one of the most, if not the most, competitive conferences in the country.
Susan R. Wente
Incoming Chancellor and Provost
Incoming Chancellor and Provost
As noted ,Candice will be the first black woman to be a athletic director in the SEC and one of only five women to hold that position in the “Power Five” conferences.
i think this is a great step forward for Vanderbilt. i am proud the university has sealed this selection from “interim” to confirmed full time. i think it is a tribute to her race and her gender long overdue.
i also believe this news is right and good because i have met Candice Lee. She has helped me in several ways. i consider her a friend. More so, i think she is the right person for the job of dealing with the difficulties of navigating the only private and smallest university through the rough waters of powerhouse Southeastern Conference athletics. It will be difficult as it always has been, perhaps even more than in the past, especially in football and men and women’s basketball.
In the SEC, as with most major athletic conferences, academics and the full college life experience is given a nod and then dropped in priority behind winning and making money from athletic programs. Vanderbilt has been trying to not allow that in managing their programs. Football and basketball should not be the dog wagging the tail. Academics should be the dog and sports should be what is wagging.
Candice understands that and the chancellors’ words about her ring true. She gives the Commodores the chance to integrate athletics and college life for the athletes and achieve success in both.
i thank the university for making this decision. i thank Perry Wallace, David Williams, and, i believe, Andrew Maraniss, for showing us the way it should be done. And most of all, i thank Candice for her capabilities bring us to this point and giving me hope for the future. Most of all, i thank Candice for being Candice and a friend.