Vanderbilt hires consulting firm, establishes search committee in athletic director quest


Claire Barnett

Commodore Spring Football game on Saturday, March 24, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Cutler Klein, Sports Editor

Vanderbilt University announced the next steps in the search for a new athletic director on Friday, establishing a search committee and advisory council as well as hiring the firm Korn Ferry to help conduct their search.

“Key to our choosing Korn Ferry to assist with our search is the firm’s demonstrated ability to recruit a pool of candidates with diverse experiences and backgrounds,” Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos said in a press release Friday.

Jed Hughes, vice chairman and head of global sports practice at Korn Ferry, will coordinate the search process alongside Korn Ferry Senior Associate Kyle Bowlsby. Both have experience with these processes at the highest levels of collegiate athletics. The firm led the search for athletic directors at both Rice University and the University of Virginia.

The firm will work to identify a potential list of candidates to replace David Williams, who announced he was stepping down as athletic director last month.

In addition, the school has named a search committee that is chaired by Zeppos and includes big names in the Vanderbilt Community. The committee will be composed of the following people:

-Vanderbilt Board of Trust Chairman Bruce Evans

-Board of Trust member and Board of Trust Athletics Committee Chair John Ingram

-Vanderbilt School of Medicine Associate Dean of Alumni Affairs and former Commodores standout in singles and doubles tennis Ann Price

-YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee Vice President for External Affairs andformer Commodores basketball player Shan Foster 

In addition to the search committee, the new advisory council will “be a resource for the chancellor in identifying the qualities and important responsibilities of the athletic director during the search.”

The members of this council are as follows:

Holly Algood – Vanderbilt assistant professor of medicine and former college athlete

Khari Blasingame – current student-athlete, Vanderbilt football

Fernanda Contreras – current student-athlete, Vanderbilt tennis; president of student athlete advisory committee

Midori Lockett – community liaison, Vanderbilt Office of Community, Neighborhood and Government Relations

Geoff MacDonald – Vanderbilt head women’s tennis coach

Derek Mason – Vanderbilt head football coach

Rosevelt Noble – assistant dean of students and director of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center at Vanderbilt; former student-athlete, Vanderbilt football

John Stein – Vanderbilt alumnus; former student-athlete, Vanderbilt swimming; member of National Commodore Club; vice chair, Vanderbilt University Medical Center Board of Directors

The council will also ensure that the person hired for the role and the process itself is based on “The Vanderbilt Way,” developing student-athletes that are competitive and successful both on and off the field.

On top of these groups, Chancellor Zeppos will be utilizing input from participants in a “listening tour” that he announced last month. Since the announcement in mid-september, there have been dozens of individual meetings with coaches, students and staff, and nearly 1,000 comments from alumni, fans and others via an online feedback form.