STUDENT ATHLETES?

Vanderbilt University is getting rid of the position of Athletics Director in an interesting move:

Vanderbilt University announced a major reorganization of its athletic operations today in an effort to bring sports, academics and student life together more successfully.

The university is not getting rid of its intercollegiate sports programs, but officials said they want to change the way they’re managed. The reorganization means Vanderbilt’s athletic director, Todd Turner, will be out of his job of the past seven years, though he’ll have an opportunity to keep working for the university on NCAA reform issues.

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The changes, which Gee said have been in the works for six months and will take another six to nine months to implement fully, include:

  • Bringing intercollegiate athletics and recreational activities for students together in a single Office of Student Athletics, Recreation and Wellness. Assistant Vice Chancellor Brock Williams will oversee the office’s work and report to David Williams, the university’s vice chancellor for student life and general counsel.

    The new office will be responsible for 14 varsity sports, more than 300 varsity student-athletes, 37 club sports with more than 1,000 participants and the university’s intramural athletic program.

    David Williams held a similar position at Ohio State University, where Gee was president from 1990 to 1998.

  • With the athletic department gone, Turner has been offered a chance to serve as special assistant to the chancellor for athletic/academic reform. Turner has been Vanderbilt’s athletics director since 1996 and is chairman of the NCAA’s Incentives and Disincentives Committee, which has proposed sweeping changes to improve athletes’ academic performance.
  • Vanderbilt’s central administration will now oversee financial, administrative, public relations, marketing and facilities work related to athletic operations, including the ticket office. Similarly, academic support for varsity athletes eventually will come under the direction of the provost’s office.
  • A bold move, but one wonders what the practical impact will be.

    Cross-posted at SportsBlog

    (Hat tip: Cam Edwards)

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    James Joyner
    About James Joyner
    James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.