Vandy's David Williams Resigning; Next AD Will Look To Grow Fan Base
Vanderbilt AD David Williams announced his resignation yesterday, and his replacement will face the "challenge of growing a shrinking fan base, marketing a football program in a growing city and upgrading Vanderbilt's aging football stadium -- a looming issue throughout Williams' tenure," according to a front-page piece by Adam Sparks of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. Williams, who will remain on the job until his replacement is found, said of the school's next AD, "They have to understand what Vanderbilt means and who Vanderbilt is, and don't compromise those values." Williams' 15-year tenure was "successful in many areas, but he struggled to raise funds to renovate Vanderbilt's football stadium." Academically, Vanderbilt's student-athletes "ranked among the best in the nation." But Williams' feats have "not completely overshadowed Vanderbilt's lack of progress in rehabilitating its football stadium." Vanderbilt has "not renovated its stadium" since '81. Williams said that he initially "planned to resign last summer." He said that his 10-year contract, which began in '08, "expired on June 30, 2018, but the Vanderbilt administration convinced him to stay one more year during the search for his replacement" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 9/12). The school plans to "immediately begin its search for a successor" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/11).
WHAT COMES NEXT: Vanderbilt Chancellor Nick Zeppos said of the plan to find Williams' successor, "The first thing I wanted to do is get David's input, listen to my coaches, listen to my student athletes, listen to our fan base, listen to our alumni group and really take a pause and moment of reflection." Zeppos: "We won't miss a beat with the program, particularly with David still, kind of, in the big chair, but I want to listen, I want to learn." Williams said he has not "figured out all the things I'm going to do, but I'm going to be around" ("The Paul Finebaum Show," ESPN Radio, 9/11).
TRUE PIONEER: THE UNDEFEATED's Martenzie Johnson noted Williams was the "first black athletic director" in SEC history. He was "instrumental in helping further break the color barrier in the SEC," hiring football coaches James Franklin in '10 and Derek Mason, who replaced Franklin, making Vanderbilt the "first SEC school to hire multiple black football coaches." The departure of Williams "leaves just one black athletic director in the SEC: Auburn's Allen Greene." Williams' retirement will also bring the number of black ADs in the D-I FBS "down to 12" (THEUNDEFEATED.com, 9/11).