Vanderbilt AD Malcolm Turner resigns; Candice Lee to be interim

Vanderbilt athletic director Malcolm Turner resigned Tuesday after one year at the school.

Turner came to Vanderbilt from the NBA's G League, where he served as president for more than four years.

Vanderbilt on Tuesday named deputy athletic director Candice Lee, a former women's basketball captain at the school, as interim AD. Lee becomes Vanderbilt's first female AD and the first black woman to lead an SEC athletic department.

In a prepared statement, Turner cited "certain family commitments" and "new opportunities" as reasons for his resignation. Sources said Vanderbilt's financial approach and spending under Turner, a first-time college athletic director, escalated tension in recent weeks and led to Tuesday's split.

During his year at Vanderbilt, Turner replaced basketball coach Bryce Drew with Jerry Stackhouse. Turner retained football coach Derek Mason after a disappointing 2019 season, saying the focus had to be on building greater infrastructure for the program.

Stackhouse called the moves surprising on Tuesday while meeting with reporters ahead of Wednesday's game against No. 18 LSU. He had a meeting with Turner scheduled for Thursday 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 has been heavily involved in Vanderbilt's strategic plan for athletics, which the school said should be announced in the next few weeks. She has served as Vanderbilt's senior woman administrator since 2004 and has been the lead sport administrator for football and women's basketball. Lee has earned three degrees from Vanderbilt.

Lee 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 said the strategic plan is far-reaching.

"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,'' she 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.''

Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin, who led the Commodores to their second national title in June, said he has worked with Lee for 18 years and watched 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.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.