The Situation at Vanderbilt Could get Worse Before it gets Better

Greg Arias

This might not be what anyone around Vanderbilt athletics wants to hear at this moment, but things might just get worse before they get better for the Commodores and their fans. 

How exactly could one come to that conclusion considering the events of Tuesday and what has lead the universities' athletic interests to this point?

Consider this, in the wake of Malcolm Turner's resignation the future of Derek Mason, Jerry Stackhouse and Stephanie White become uncertain. 

Mason, the Commodores head football coach for the last seven seasons has been on the hot seat with fans who were vocal in their outcry to have him replaced after his squad finished last season with a 3-9 record,  including an ugly home loss to UNLV and dwindling attendance figures that reached perhaps all-time lows late in the season. 

Stackhouse, who through no fault of his own inherited a mess with the men's basketball program and then lost his best player which has sent the program into an SEC record losing streak. It's not all his fault, and in fact, most of it isn't but that doesn't matter at this point.   

While White's Commodore women's team currently sports an overall winning record (12-10) while their SEC mark is not good, as they are only 2-7 in conference play. 

Combined three of the four biggest sports offered by Vanderbilt are a combined 3-42 in conference play the last two seasons. That's not good in any way and not something a new athletic director will want to handle.  

Combine that with the fact that Turner threw his support behind Mason following the end of the season, he hired Stackhouse and retained White and now he is gone leaves the waters a bit murky as to each coach's future. 

Stackhouse is the only coach who spoke directly with the media on Tuesday, in a prescheduled weekly press conference where he said all the right things, but his situation could change quickly regardless. 

"Obviously we're all surprised, we were just looking forward to this week and Thursday we were to talk about plans moving forward, having a big day talking about athletics and a strategic plan, and we're still looking forward to that," said Stackhouse. "This is again, not a lot of warning or anything. It happened pretty quickly. I got a call from Candice (Candice Storey Lee, new interim athletic director) that we're still moving ahead and my job doesn't change. Continue to do what we can to win basketball games, but obviously surprised."      

While Stackhouse has the longest rope of the three coaches because he inherited such a mess, with his friend and the man who hired him now gone, he could decide on his own to walk away from the troubled athletic department, though he said that was not his plan. 

"Well I think during my whole interview process Malcolm and Candice were there step by step and I think there's nobody that embodies or understands the Vanderbilt way more than Candice," said Stackhouse. "So I think nothing that was told to me by Malcolm wasn't echoed by Candice so the fact that she's still right here in place and ready to step up, I think that's a great thing for us, a great thing for the university and we're just going to follow her leadership and try to give these student-athletes the best things that we can give them on the court and off the court."  

The next few days and weeks will certainly be interesting and worth following as a new chancellor will soon take office with a decision to make as to if Lee will have the interim tag removed or if the university will look elsewhere for their next athletic director.

Once that decision is made there could be more fallout with these coaches, but at least, for the time being, they will all continue forward no matter how much uncertainty surrounds their future and that of the athletic program as a whole.   

  

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