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Volume 25 No. 212

People and Pop Culture

Many admirers credited Williams for keeping social change at the forefront of his job
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Former Vanderbilt AD DAVID WILLIAMS, who died Friday at age 71, was the "first black athletics director hired by an SEC school" and spent his 16-year tenure with the university "trying to push social change on campus and balance Vanderbilt's dual task of competing in academics and athletics," according to Adam Sparks of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. Williams' last day as AD was Jan. 31, and his retirement party was "set for Friday night on campus." He was known for his "brilliant mind, his dedication to student-athletes and a quirkiness signified by the black track suits and sneakers that he wore on a daily basis." Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos called Williams an "incomparable leader." Williams always "kept social change at the forefront of his job," including with his '10 hiring of football coach JAMES FRANKLIN -- the "first black coach of a major sport at Vanderbilt and only the third black football coach in SEC history." Williams had "planned to spend his time establishing Vanderbilt's new Sports, Law & Society Program, which would explore the impact of sports on social change." He was a member of the NCAA’s Minority Opportunities Committee and several other boards (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 2/9). In Birmingham, Teresa Walker noted Williams was "nicknamed the Goldfather" for his "success at the school." He had been the SEC's "second-longest tenured" AD behind Kentucky's MITCH BARNHART when he announced his retirement last September. During his stay, Vanderbilt "won four national championships" and enjoyed its "most football success in nearly a century." He also oversaw "upgrades to McGugin Center, home to the football program, along with building an indoor football practice facility that also has a track, upgrades to the baseball field, and offices and renovations at Memorial Gym" (AL.com, 2/8).

LASTING IMPACT: In Nashville, Joe Rexrode wrote if there is "one point that has to be made about him right now, it’s that he was real." Every AD uses the term “student-athlete,” but Williams "earned the right to use it." Leaders often "take on social issues, but they were personal to Williams." He was "not a schmoozer," which is "not always beneficial in today’s world of college athletics." Williams was criticized for "not getting enough done in the areas of fund-raising and facilities upgrades." Rexrode: "When you’re assessing a person’s life, those things seem awfully artificial and extraneous." Nashville MLS Owner JOHN INGRAM, a Vanderbilt alum, said that people "should remember Williams for 'his love and dedication to the student-athletes." Ingram: "David truly cared about each and every one of them" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 2/9).

THOUGHTS FROM PEERS: Twitter tributes poured in for Williams on Friday. The Athletic's Stewart Mandel wrote Williams "had a profound impact on Vandy athletics." Univ. of South Carolina Exec Associate AD Charles Bloom: "There was never a doubt that he cared about the student and the athlete, about Vandy, the SEC and college athletics." SB Nation's Christian D'Andrea: "He worked to give the school's student athletes the recognition they deserved and interacted brilliantly with fans, donors, and the press alike." Attorney Charles Bone: "I had as much respect and admiration for him as anyone in Nashville."

The NFL Cardinals named former Lions Dir of Football Administration MATT HARRISS to the same position. Harriss replaces MIKE DISNER, who "resigned from that position last month after spending the past six years in that role" (AZCENTRAL.com, 2/8)....The Alliance of American Football hired former NFLer MICHAEL VICK to a "role in the league's administrative body." He will "work with player development and player welfare." Vick originally had planned to be offensive coordinator for the league's Atlanta Legends franchise (ESPN.com, 2/9)....Online fundraising platform Omaze named Dodgers VP/Global Partnerships RYAN NORYS Senior VP/Revenue & Partnerships (THE DAILY).

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Scheer (l) was an original member of the Hornets, running basketball operations and the business side
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

In Charlotte, Scott Fowler in a front-page piece profiled former Hornets GM CARL SCHEER, who for years "boasted one of the sharpest minds in basketball." But now, at 82, Scheer's mind is "betraying him," as he has dementia. Scheer is the man who "invented the all-star dunk contest and who ran" the team during its "glorious first season." Scheer also previously "ran the upstart American Basketball Association's Denver Nuggets," before directing the Hornets' basketball and business operations (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/10).

GOING HER OWN WAY: West Coast Conference Commissioner GLORIA NEVAREZ is "still relatively new on the job," but she has "taken her place among a generation of women running Division I conferences across the nation." Nevarez, 47, is the "first Latina to lead a major-college league." She "never intended to be a trailblazer," but her position "demands that she play a leading role for women in a traditionally male realm." Nevarez is now "trying to deliver, albeit on her own terms" (L.A. TIMES, 2/10).

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT: Patriots WR JULIAN EDELMAN and S DEVIN MCCOURTY presented the "opening award at the 61st annual Grammy Awards" last night. The pair announced the winner for "Best Pop Duo/Group Performance," which went to LADY GAGA and BRADLEY COOPER for the song "Shallow" from "A STAR IS BORN" (BOSTONGLOBE.com, 2/10)....Giants RB SAQUON BARKLEY's 22nd birthday party included being "serenaded" by rappers JAY-Z and DIDDY. The Roc Nation-hosted party also included guests like BEYONCEMEEK MILLDJ KHALEDJOE JONAS and SOPHIE TURNER (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 2/10).

NAMES: Boxer CODY CROWLEY "runs his own promotional company, and logs 40-hour work weeks outside the gym." Crowley heads a four-person team at CCC Promotions that "organizes fights." However, the "scale and structure of CCC Promotions differ sharply from Mayweather Promotions, which is run by boxing's biggest celebrity and does business with Showtime, as well as boxing power broker AL HAYMON" (THESTAR.com, 2/8)....BUBBA WALLACE, the only black full-time driver on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, as part of Black History Month “made a quick stop in Miami” on Friday to “learn about the Overtown neighborhood.” For nearly three hours, Wallace "toured Lyric Theater, the home of DANA. A DORSEY and the Overtown Performing Arts Center” (MIAMI HERALD, 2/9)....Former sports broadcaster WARNER WOLF turned himself in to police in East Naples, Fla., and was arrested Thursday after he “broke letters off a sign at the entrance of the Classics Plantation Estates.” Wolf, 81, has previously “spoken about the word ‘plantation’” (NAPLES DAILY NEWS, 2/10)....Former NFLer JASON AVANT’s two-year-old trampoline park in the Philadelphia suburb of Deptford, N.J., is now “attracting more than 5,000 visitors a week.” The park finished No. 1 in revenue among all 21 Launch Park franchises in the country. Launch Park was co-founded by Pro Football HOFer-elect TY LAW. Avant is “poised to open” two more parks in Delran, N.J., and Newark in the coming weeks (PHILLY.com, 2/10)....Former NFLer PAT MCAFEE announced on social media he is engaged to SAMANTHA LUDY. He “proposed after taking a helicopter ride to a waterfall” (INDYSTAR.com, 2/10).

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