Today we wrap up our series from our interview with former Vanderbilt basketball star Will Perdue, who on Monday spoke with Commodore Country for what began as a regular article on the situation within the Vanderbilt athletics department. When that talk ended, there was more than could reasonably fit on one story, so here we are with part three of what was a very enlightening and informative chat for me with one of the all-time Vanderbilt athletic legends.
Since Perdue took to Twitter last week to call out the university on their lack of support for new athletic facilities, he has spoken with a member of the athletic department.
"Yes, I'm actually supposed to talk to Candice (Lee) this evening (Monday)," said Perdue. "She reached out fairly quickly after I put out that tweet, and said we're making headway, we're making progress, I have a great relationship with (new chancellor Daniel) Diermier. You know, please be patient, but you know, how long am I supposed to wait?"
"How long are former athletes supposed to wait?" Perdue said. "I don't understand, but I guess I can give then credit because the message for us has been consistent for a long time."
As for his offer to work for Vanderbilt and donate his salary back to the university, Perdue wanted to make one thins clear.
"Let me be very, very clear in my comment that I made to you. I have not made that offer to Candice; I have not sat down with Candice and said, I want to come work for you, I have not made that offer," Perdue said. "I'm at a point now where I'm in a wait and see attitude."
"I feel like it's the responsibility of the university to step up first and foremost and show that they believe in the athletic department. They want the athletic department to move forward, they want us to be able to compete," said Perdue. "And in most athletes minds, its facilities. So when they start putting forth the effort and not just verbalizing it, but showing us with their efforts, and as a lot of people have texted me when the shovels start hitting the dirt, that's when people's opinions will start to change."
"I think I'm one of thousands of former athletes who have now said; you know what, you've got to change the facilities, the locker room, the weight room," added Perdue." I mean, if we're going to continue to accept SEC money, we have to be able to compete. Now, I'm not talking about we have to be able to compete with Alabama, LSU, and Georgia, but we sure as hell better be able to compete with Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and Missouri. Now Florida, I've got to give them credit, it looks like they've turned things around, but Arkansas, we should be able to compete with all those schools."
"Why should we not be able to compete with those schools?" continued Perdue. "Why do we always have to continue to be in the basement?"
For comparison, Perdue mentioned Kentucky and the improvements in their football and other athletic teams in recent years.
'Look what Kentucky's done," said Perdue. "There's one thing I always remembered, and this doesn't happen anymore, but as a Vanderbilt athlete, whether it's basketball, football, when the basketball schedule comes out, you always look to see when the Kentucky games. You play them twice and, because you know that's a benchmark for basketball. You also always look to see when the Kentucky football game is because you're always like, that's probably the realistic chance of getting a win."
"I don't even think that's a statement anymore because Kentucky's done a really nice job, I don't want to say they've turned it around, but they've become very competitive now in the SEC," said Perdue. "Look what they did last year."
"So if these other schools can do it, we should be able to do it," proclaimed Perdue."At the end of the day, it seems like I graduated in 1988, so I've been basically hearing the same thing from every new athletic director, have patience.
"The one guy who actually looked like he was making headway and was doing what we all feel like he was doing what he was told to do, and make things happen was Malcolm Turner," continued Perdue. "Then all of a sudden, he's out, and we still have no explanation, none, except for the fact he was spending money, and he was making things happen on paper. We still don't see any changes in the facilities, no shovels in the ground, but yet it seemed like he was doing what was necessary, and somebody didn't like it, and now he's not there anymore."
"It's very frustrating," concluded Perdue.
As for on the field, Perdue shared that he did watch the Commodores season opener against Texas A&M last week.
"I watched the whole Texas A&M game, knowing it was a 30-point spread, but I was very surprised by what I saw," Perdue said. "They might have found themselves a diamond in the rough in that freshman quarterback."