It’s been 24 days since the Tennessean’s Adam Sparks first published his article detailing the Vanderbilt University administration’s efforts to prevent fundraising for renovations to Vanderbilt Stadium, the University’s home football stadium since 1922, which hasn’t seen a major renovation since 1981.
In the 24 days that have passed, the most that Vanderbilt has given in response was an unsigned, boilerplate statement committing to maybe considering the question of stadium renovations. That’s it. Both Adam Sparks and Joe Rexrode have requested interviews with Chancellor Nick Zeppos on the subject and have been repeatedly turned down. The latest salvo was Sparks attempting to ambush Zeppos after a Rotary Club luncheon and Zeppos responding thusly:
So, um, just what was it that Sparks wanted to talk about?
My first (reasonable) question was:— Adam Sparks (@AdamSparks) August 27, 2018
"This has been a mostly one-sided conversation, but I'm sure there are valid points on both sides. What would you like Vandy fans to better understand about challenges in renovating a stadium?"
(But he was in the car by then) https://t.co/i5Eftz3wby
Yeah. That is, in fact, perfectly reasonable.
We understand that Zeppos probably views Sparks, Rexrode, and most of the Vanderbilt fans and alumni demanding answers about the stadium thusly:
Yeah. Pretty much. But this is well past the point of fans wanting to be taken seriously. A couple of weeks ago, we pointed out the flaw in Zeppos’ approach. Since then, Zeppos has continued to not mount a defense of Vanderbilt’s inaction, which raises the obvious question: What is Zeppos trying to hide? Why does Nick Zeppos not even want to touch this subject?
Everybody here is more than willing to hear a defense, and it’s even plausible that Zeppos could win some fans (and especially alumni) over to his side with a well-reasoned defense. Instead, Zeppos’ defense has been, and continues to be, silence. But as a good defense lawyer knows, silence is not always the best defense. It’s the defense of choice when the other side has failed to present its case. But when the other side has presented its case, it’s time to start explaining yourself.
Zeppos surely hoped that by staying silent, the chorus of shouting for a new stadium would go away. Instead, it’s only getting louder. It’s time for a real answer.