NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt has removed the interim title, making Candice Storey Lee the first woman to run a Southeastern Conference athletics program.
With Vanderbilt's announcement , Lee now is among only five women and the second black woman in charge of a Power Five program.
Daniel Diermeier, who takes over as Vanderbilt's chancellor on July 1, said Lee is the "living embodiment" of the university's values and aspirations.
"Candice is perfectly positioned to lead our athletics program to new heights of success on and off the field of play. She has the drive, creativity, and perseverance to help elevate our student-athletes and the entire Vanderbilt Athletics program," said Diermeier in a media release. "The progress that Vanderbilt Athletics has achieved in recent years, and our very high aspirations for the future, are grounded in the university's commitment both to academic excellence and to preparing our student-athletes to play and win in one of the most, if not the most, competitive conferences in the country. Candice is the living embodiment of these values and aspirations."
The 41-year-old Lee is a former Commodores basketball captain.
In 2016, Lee was named as deputy athletic director, which had her oversee the operations of the athletic department day-to-day.
"We will look back and see this decision as a major turning point for Vanderbilt Athletics and our entire university. Most importantly, Candice leads by example as an alumnus and former athlete—showing our student-athletes that the university's commitment to ensuring they are successful on and off the field can pay dividends in their lives after Vanderbilt," said Interim Chancellor and Provost Susan R. Wente in the media release. "Candice hit the ground running after being appointed interim athletic director earlier this year, and I am confident she will continue to deliver the best opportunities possible for our student-athletes."
Lee earned her three degrees from Vanderbilt - her bachelor's degree in 2000, her master's degree in 2002, and her doctorate in 2012.
"I am incredibly honored to lead the Commodores, and I could not have been in this position without the support of the university's leadership, our dedicated coaches and staff, and all of Commodore Nation," Lee said in the media release. "There are challenges ahead and much uncertainty about what college athletics can and should look like during a pandemic, but I firmly believe that anything is possible if we all work together. My priority, and the university's priority, continues to be examining everything we can do to support our student-athletes and ensure their safety and well-being. We also continue to prepare for the future—determining and establishing the conditions our student-athletes need to compete and succeed at Vanderbilt and beyond."
She took over as interim athletic director on Feb. 4 when Malcolm Turner resigned after one year on the job.