Vanderbilt Athletics should be a prototype for college sports departments everywhere

Candice Lee in May became the first Black woman to serve as athletic director at an SEC school.

Candice Lee in May became the first Black woman to serve as athletic director at an SEC school.
Photo: AP

Vanderbilt is no stranger to making history in sports. Over the past 12 months alone, the school’s athletics program has continued to help women break barriers by providing talented women opportunities to shine in some of the program’s biggest roles. Today is no different.


The excellently-named Casey Stangelhas been hired as Vanderbilt’s director of football operations, joining the program’s new head coach Clark Lea, who replaced Derek Mason in December. Stangel took to Twitter to notify the public of her new position, according to the VanderbiltHustler, by changing her bio and adding a headshot photo of her new job.

Stangel’s hire makes her the only woman director of football operations in the entire SEC. She previously served in various roles with the Vanderbilt baseball team since 2017.


The move is only the latest in a year of powerful women making moves at the university. In May, Vanderbilt hired Candice Lee as its athletic director, making her the first woman and the first Black woman to lead an SEC athletic department in this role.

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Lee was a student-athlete at Vanderbilt who graduated from the university in 2000. She was able to serve as the interim AD for a few months before her hiring, after the resignation of her predecessor.

Lee will also serve as the vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs.

As many should already know, Sarah Fuller made history in November as the first woman to play in a Power 5 football game and later made more history in December when she was the first woman to ever in a Power 5 football game. There have been other women to kick in FBS football games before Fuller, but her feats were the first at a Power 5 program. Fuller, the goalkeeper of the SEC championship-winning women’s soccer team at Vanderbilt, even tried to inspire the guys in the Vandy locker room when they were getting beat down one game.


It’s hard to turn around a losing culture in one game especially when it’s likely that most of the team has already checked out of the season. But the initiative in itself to address the team shows Fuller’s leadership abilities.


All in all, Vanderbilt athletics have been a prototype for how to provide opportunities to minority groups. Hopefully, Vanderbilt will serve as an example to other athletic programs to offer these same positions to qualified candidates from marginalized communities.

All of these women were deserving of the chance to perform in key roles, just like so many other people from these communities are deserving of positions in their respective fields.


All they ever needed was an opportunity.

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