David Williams II, the first black athletic director in Southeastern Conference (SEC) history, announced on Tuesday that he is leaving his position at Vanderbilt.
Williams, who was also the first African-American vice chancellor in school history, took over the Commodores program in 2003 after three years as a faculty member and was officially designated athletic director in 2012. He will continue in the role until his successor is named.
Under the 70-year-old’s watch, the Commodores football team reached five bowl games (winning three) after not appearing in a single postseason game since 1982. Outside of football, Vanderbilt won four national championships, including one apiece in baseball and women’s tennis and two in women’s bowling.
Williams was also instrumental in helping further break the color barrier in the SEC, hiring football coaches James Franklin (the first black coach in a major sport at Vanderbilt and just the third black football coach in SEC history) in 2010 and Derek Mason, who replaced Franklin, in 2014, making Vanderbilt the first SEC school to hire multiple black football coaches.
The departure of Williams leaves just one black athletic director in the SEC: Auburn’s Allen Greene, who was hired away from Buffalo in January (Greene is the third black athletic director in conference history and the first at Auburn). Unless Williams is replaced by another African-American, his retirement will also bring the number of black athletic directors in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) down to 12.
While Williams is leaving his football post, the school announced he will transition into a full-time role as tenured professor of law at the Vanderbilt Law School, a position he’s held since 2000.
“It has been a remarkable run and I have cherished the opportunity to work with so many passionate and committed students, coaches and staff,” Williams said in a statement. “After 27 years as a senior administrator in higher education, I am also excited to move back to my first love of teaching and to bring all that I’ve learned and experienced fully into that role.”
Remaining Black athletic directors in FBS
- Allen Greene, Auburn
- Bernard Muir, Stanford
- Carla Williams, Virginia
- Derrick Gragg, Tulsa
- Eugene Smith, Ohio State
- Damon Evans, Maryland
- Lynn Swann, USC
- Martin Jarmond, Boston College
- Ray Anderson, Arizona State
- Sean Frazier, Northern Illinois
- Warde J. Manuel, Michigan
- Mark Alnutt, Buffalo