New AD Malcolm Turner will “listen and learn”


Screengrab via YouTube

Betsy Goodfriend, Senior Writer

Vanderbilt’s newly-hired vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletic director Malcolm Turner comes from the professional sports world, but he wants fans, players, and students to know that he is ready to dive deep into collegiate athletics.

“I draw heavily from my consulting background,” said Turner. “I’ve worked across all corners of the sports business from brands, venues, talent, media, marketing events. I look forward to applying my perspective and expertise through the lens of college sports here at Vanderbilt.”

Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos, who led the search for the position, said Turner stood out as the top candidate to the search committee early in the process. Turner’s ability to create growth in a dynamic environment appealed to the committee.

Zeppos said, “The business background [of Turner] was important to me, but yet the strategic thinking and the ability to say ‘this is where this should be going,’ was very important to me.”

Turner said he was not actively looking for a job in college athletics, but the Vanderbilt job stood out to him because of the opportunity to work with Zeppos to advance the “Vanderbilt Way” in a high-growth market like Nashville.

“My first priority will be to listen and learn,” said Turner in a media teleconference. “This is an elite athletics program at a top-notch university, and I certainly want to understand and build on that success.”

His process for elevating the brand of Vanderbilt is simple, and it has already worked once when Turner led the NBA G League to its current heights from its beginnings as a fledgling minor league with no identity. Turner, the president of the NBA G League since 2014, transformed the league into a league that develops high-profile players, coaches, and referees for the NBA with additional teams and two-way contracts with NBA squads.

“We were successful in creating a compelling vision for the future,” Turner said of his time at the G League. “Then, we crafted an action plan for growth. Once we had those two pieces in place, I think we were deadly efficient in executing that plan.”

Turner was not specific about his exact action plans, but emphasized the importance of listening to what the community had to say before making any plans for the future.

He stressed his commitment to listening to what the community has to say about pressing issues such as facility renovations and increasing student support of Vanderbilt athletics.

So folks, if you want to see change in the Vanderbilt athletic department, Turner starts on February 1st, and he will be ready to listen and learn.