David Williams — who we’ve referred to as VU’s “de facto” AD for several years — has finally been given that title officially. His full job description is “vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletics director.” Good luck fitting that on a business card.
For all the jokes made when then-chancellor Gee nuked the AD position in 2003, the Commodores have actually been quite competitive without someone carrying that title. In basketball and baseball they have been nationally ranked. In football they’ve reached two bowl games and actually managed a winning season — a first since 1982.
Williams’ promotion comes as Vanderbilt tries to show (and make) a new commitment to athletics. The school has given football coach James Franklin much of the support it promised when Williams plucked him from far off the radar two years ago. And don’t think the early returns on Franklin didn’t play a role in Williams’ new title.
Current VU chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos said via press release:
“By every measure, the game has changed for Vanderbilt athletics over the past nine years. Our efforts to ensure that Vanderbilt athletes are students first have paid off on the playing field, in recruiting, in the classroom and across our campus. This success is largely thanks to David Williams.”
Williams himself added:
“We are proud of what we have accomplished thus far, but we know that we are just at the beginning of what can and will be. I am honored to lead some of the best coaches and staff in the nation as we support the outstanding efforts of our student athletes, while delivering a world-class fan experience at our athletic facilities.”
If for no other reason than PR purposes, this is a good move for Vanderbilt. As noted, Gee’s decision to do away with the AD position didn’t seem to hurt the school’s actual athletic performance, but it did create a perception among many that Vandy did not take its sports seriously. Now, VU coaches will no longer have to dance around recruits’ questions about joining an “intramural” program without an AD. That negative recruiting arrow has been removed from the quiver of rival SEC coaches.
Smart. And that’s no surprise, coming from Vandy.