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Moral merger

Vanderbilt eliminates athletic department, keeps sports teams

Posted: Tuesday September 9, 2003 5:33PM; Updated: Tuesday September 9, 2003 5:33PM
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Vanderbilt University, in an effort to curb the ills of big-time college sports, announced Tuesday that it will merge its athletic department and its student recreational activities department.

Vanderbilt will continue playing intercollegiate sports, but the reorganization eliminates the traditional athletic department entirely and puts athletics under the central university administration.

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"For too long, college athletics has been segregated from the core mission of the university," Chancellor Gordon Gee said in a statement. "As a result, we have created a culture, both on this campus and nationally, that is disconnected from our students, faculty and other constituents, where responsibility is diffused, the potential for abuse considerable and the costs -- both financial and academic -- unsustainable."

No NCAA sports programs will be eliminated, but just about everything else will change under the restructuring. That includes the elimination of the athletic director position, which Todd Turner has held for seven years.

Turner has been offered a job as special assistant to the chancellor for athletic and academic reform, a position in which he would advance "a national agenda for the reform of intercollegiate athletics."

A Vanderbilt spokeswoman said Tuesday afternoon that Turner had not yet accepted the position.

"Let there be no misunderstanding of our intention: Vanderbilt is committed to competing at the highest levels in the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA, but we intend on competing consistent with the values of a world-class university," Gee said.

Vanderbilt's sports programs have had mixed success in recent years.

The football program has lost 18 straight Southeastern Conference games and 27 of its last 28 SEC games, beating only Kentucky in 2000. The women's basketball team went to the NCAA regional tournament last year and lost in the second round while the men's basketball team finished 11-18. The men's tennis team was second in the nation.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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