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For once, Vanderbilt is winning the public relations war

Recapping a whirlwind of a week in Vanderbilt athletics.

Vanderbilt Commodores Photo by Vanderbilt/Collegiate Images via Getty Images

This week, Vanderbilt got out in front of the story in a way that it notably didn’t, say, last March, when then-Athletic Director Malcolm Turner made the decision to fire head men’s basketball coach Bryce Drew.

The university issued a press release on Tuesday morning announcing that associate athletic director Candice Storey Lee would serve as the university’s interim athletic director — a paragraph above a link to a prepared statement from Turner announcing his resignation. Burying the lede, sure, but “burying the lede” has been the entire theme of this entire story.

Because unlike with Drew, the university has completely controlled the narrative rather than allowing outside parties to control it. Here’s Dan Wolken on Tuesday morning:

Meanwhile, this is something that should never be said when the athletic director departs.

Derek Mason expressed similar sentiments on Nashville t*aisports radio earlier this week, and we can all remember Bryce Drew complaining that Malcolm Turner showed up to one practice and decided based on that to fire him. We probably should have paid more attention to the “showed up to one practice” part. So what you’re telling me is that Vanderbilt got rid of an athletic director who was spending gobs of money on God knows what and who barely had a relationship with the coaches of his two most prominent programs?

Why, exactly, is that a bad thing?

It certainly didn’t hurt matters that the day after Turner’s resignation, Candice Storey Lee had her first press conference as athletic director (and by all acoounts nailed it), and the men’s basketball team promptly won its first SEC game in nearly two years. That things suddenly were looking up for that program took a lot of focus away from the events of the day before.

Fans of the program have a right to be skeptical about Vanderbilt’s commitment to athletics, and specifically the football program, and I certainly won’t argue with that. And there’s an alternate reality where the narrative is that the Same Old Vandy powers that be decided to put a kibosh on an athletic director who wanted to run things the way any athletic director would. That this narrative hasn’t been backed up with hard facts is a testament to Vanderbilt’s ability to, at least in this one instance, control the narrative.

Happy Friday, everyone. Anchor Down.