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February 2012

YEAR OF

BLACK & GOLD


table of contents

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2 Compliance Corner Crossword challenge 4 National Commodore Club Priority program; Liberty Bowl 7 More from McGugin By the numbers 8 My Game Freshman swimmer Liz Freeman 11 Black and Golden Age Possibly VU’s most successful year Winning on all fronts Trademark licensing booms

13 Black History Month Spotlight NCAA V.P. Robert Vowels 15 My Turn

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Rod Williamson’s monthly column

17 Vanderbilt’s Valentines Alumni couples discuss VU connection

1 Four Things with... 2 Coach Corbin previews baseball season 22 Might Pecoraro pitch? Checking in on T.J.’s rehab progress

24 Last Shots 2011 AutoZone Liberty Bowl

To submit a letter to Commodore Nation, you can e-mail: commodorenation@vanderbilt.edu or write to Commodore Nation, 2601 Jess Neely Drive, Nashville, TN 37212. Letters should include the writer’s name and address and may be edited for clarity and space.

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C O M M O D O R E N AT I O N

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COMPLIANCE

COR NER Across 3. A ny student who has started classes for the 9th grade (7th grade for basketball) 6. A n individual used for the purpose of marketing an athlete’s athletic ability or reputation in a sport 7. Impermissible items of value given to student-athletes that aren’t provided to regular students 10.  A cronym for the governing body of over 1,000 member institutions 12. A cronym for a binding agreement signed by a prospect 13. A nother term for representative of athletics interest 14. T his type of grant-in-aid (scholarship) consists of tuition, fees, room, board & books

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Editorial

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Director of Communications: Rod Williamson Designers: Jeremy Teaford Chris Weinman

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Down 14 1. A booster may not provide these _______ to prospects or current student-athletes 2. A paid visit to the institution’s campus by a prospect is referred to as an _____ visit 4. T hese meals may be provided to a studentathlete in a booster’s home or on-campus with prior Compliance approval Across 9. More commonly used term for an athletic grant5. W hat the Compliance Office educates and in-aid enforces 3. Any student who has started classes for the 9th grade (7th grade for basketball) PROSPECT 11.used If afor student-athlete this, it ability could jeopar8.  N ot yet a professional, a student-athlete 6.must An individual the purpose of marketing does an athlete's athletic or reputation in a sport dize their eligibility maintain this status AGENT 7.

John Peach Andrew Turner Compliance Coordinator Recruiting/Compliance Coordinator 615/343-1060 615/322-4543 john.w.peach@vanderbilt.edu andrew.turner@vanderbilt.edu

CROSSWORD ANSWERS. Across: 3. prospect, 6. agent, 7. extra benefits, 10. ncaa, 12. nli, 13. booster, 14. full; Down: 1. gifts, 2. official, 4. occasional, 5. rules, 8. amateur, 9. scholarship, 11. gambling.

Candice Lee George Midgett Director of Compliance Compliance Coordinator 615/322-7992 615/322-2083 candice.lee@vanderbilt.edu george.d.midgett@vanderbilt.edu

F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 2

Digital Image Specialist: Julie Luckett Turner

VU Photography: Daniel Dubois Steve Green Joe Howell Jenny Mandeville Anne Rayner John Russell Susan Urmy Contributors: Brandon Barca Andy Boggs Ashley Crosby Sterling Frierson Larry Leathers George Midgett Kyle Parkinson Ryan Schulz Jennifer Stevens

Impermissible items of value given to student-athletes that aren't provided to regular students

Compliance questions? Please contact:

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Publisher: Vanderbilt University Editor-in-Chief: Chris Weinman

Administrative

Chancellor: Nicholas S. Zeppos Vice Chancellor for University Affairs: David Williams II Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs: Beth Fortune

Vanderbilt University’s Mission, Goals and Values Vanderbilt University is a center for scholarly research, informed and creative teaching, and service to the community and society at large. Vanderbilt will uphold the highest standards and be a leader in the quest for new knowledge through scholarship, dissemination of knowledge through teaching and outreach, and creative experimentation of ideas and concepts. In pursuit of these goals, Vanderbilt values most highly intellectual freedom that supports open inquiry, and equality, compassion and excellence in all endeavors. Vanderbilt University is an equal-opportunity, affirmative-action university. ON THE COVER: Images from the 2011 calendar year by Vanderbilt Photography. POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to National Commodore Club, 2601 Jess Neely Drive, Nashville, TN 37212. SUBSCRIPTION: To subscribe, contact Chris Weinman by by e-mail at commodorenation@vanderbilt.edu ADVERTISEMENT: To advertise with Commodore Nation, please contact Vanderbilt IMG Sports & Entertainment Properties. Jeff Miller, general manager 615/322-4468; jeff.miller@imgworld.com

Commodore Nation is printed using recycled paper.


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C O M M O D O R E C LU B

COR N E R

PHONE: 615/322-4114 • ONLINE: NationalCommodoreClub.com National Commodore Club Priority System The National Commodore Club has instituted a new

Requests will be allocated based on the

priority point and grouping system to provide a system-

following criteria:

atic and fair process to prioritize ticketing, seating and

1. Active status—an active NCC member is defined

parking requests. This system will encourage increased

as a donor who made a gift to Vanderbilt Athletics

annual giving while also rewarding donor loyalty.

in either the current or previous fiscal year

All tickets will be allocated this way, including season

(currently FY11 or FY12)

ticket upgrades and postseason tickets (NCAA tourna-

2. Group

ments, bowl games, etc.).

3. Priority point ranking within the group

NCC Grouping Criteria for 2011-12 Academic / Athletic Year Criteria

Group 1

Group 2

Group 3

Group 4

Group 5

Group 6

1–100

101–250

251–350

351–1000

1001–2000

2000+

Annual NCC Unrestricted Gift

$10,000+

$6,000– $9,999

$4,000– $5,999

$1,500– $3,999

$500– $1,499

$100– $499

NCC Total Lifetime Giving

$300K+

$200K+

$100K+

$50K+

$25K+

$100+

Current Capital Campaign Gift or a Restricted Gift to a Sport

$20,000+ Annual Payment

$10,000+ Annual Payment

$5,000+ Annual Payment

$2,500+ Annual Payment

$1,500+ Annual Payment

$100+ Annual Payment

NCC Priority Ranking*

Group placement is determined by meeting at least one of the criteria listed for a particular group. * NCC Priority Ranking is determined by a combination of factors, including (annual giving, lifetime giving to athletics, etc.).

Priority Point Ranking • Cumulative Lifetime Athletics Giving = 1 point per $100 given up to 2011 • National Commodore Club Annual Giving = 1 point per $100 given per year • Capital Project or Scholarship Endowment = 1 point per $100 given per year • Cumulative NCC Membership = 1 point per each year of consecutive membership • Former Vanderbilt Student-Athlete = 50 points (one-time calculation) • Vanderbilt Alumni = 25 points (one-time calculation, if former student-athlete 50 point maximum awarded) If you have any questions concerning priority points or grouping criteria, please contact the NCC Office at NCC@vanderbilt.edu or 615/322-4114. Thank you for your support of Commodore student-athletes.

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2011 AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL — Dec. 31

Hillary Cooper, Mariel Bentz, Caroline Rhett and Grace French

Tyler (’07) and Nicole (’07) Rhoden with Dr. Allan Sills

What is my NCC member number and why is it important?? Each active NCC member has their own

NCC 101

unique NCC member number. All donations, priority points and ticket purchases should be stored under this one account number. This is important for ticket allocation (postseason tickets, season ticket upgrades, etc.) which will be based on NCC priority standing. Any time you purchase tickets, whether online, over the phone or in person, please reference your NCC member number. This will help ensure that all of your points and ticket Chris Gleason, VU Hall of Famer Jim Arnold (’83, FB) and Libby Kimery Crow (’88, WBB)

purchases accumulate on the correct active account. If you do not know your NCC member number or if you think there is a discrepancy with your account, please contact us at 615/322-4114 or NCC@vanderbilt.edu.

MAy 31 Renewal Deadline To retain your parking and seating benefits, remember to renew your NCC membership in full by May 31. Renew online at www.NationalCommodoreClub.com today.

Special thanks to Barry and Don (’62) Pelts of Corky’s BBQ in Memphis for catering our tailgate.

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More from McGugin

By The

NUMBERS

Former ’Dores headed to big league camp

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bowlers with Vanderbilt ties who competed in January’s USBC World Team USA Trials. Former NCAA Player of the Year and current Assistant Coach Josie Earnest made the squad.

14 JOHN RUSSELL

ith Major League Baseball spring training camps scheduled to open this month, two of Vanderbilt’s 2011 draft picks have earned coveted spots in their respective big-league camps. Oakland has invited the team’s first round selection, right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray, to major league camp in Phoenix. After signing with the As late last summer, Gray reported to Double-A Midland and lit up the Texas League, boasting a 0.45 ERA in five starts with 18 strikeouts. Catcher Curt Casali will head to Lakeland, Fla., to take part in the Detroit Tigers camp. The Tigers’ 10th-round pick last summer, Casali played at two levels in the Detroit system last season, ending the year with Single-A West Michigan. Another former Commodore who will be headed to big league camp is Ryan Flaherty, but the 2008 first-round pick will be headed to camp with a new team this spring. After spending the first four years of his career in the Chicago Cubs organization, Flaherty will head to sunny Florida with the Baltimore Orioles this spring. The Os selected the former ’Dore in December’s Rule 5 draft. A player becomes eligible for the Rule 5 draft if they are not added to their Major League team’s 40-man roster after four minor-league seasons. The Rule 5 draft stipulates that the selected player must remain on the new team’s

Ryan Flaherty

25-man major league roster for the entirety of the season or they will be offered back to the former team for half of the original price, meaning the odds are in Flaherty’s favor to stay in Baltimore for the entire 2012 season. Baltimore made two other moves to add Commodores to their franchise in the past year. After selecting Jason Esposito in the 2011 draft, the Os signed Antoan Richardson in the offseason.

Franklin adds Barlow, Gattis to football staff

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eorge Barlow, a veteran defensive coordinator who served much of last year as an interim head coach in the Mountain West Conference, and Josh Gattis, who mentored the nation’s most productive receiver in 2011, have joined the Vanderbilt coaching staff, James Franklin announced last month. Barlow, defensive coordinator at the University of New Mexico for the past three years and interim head coach for the final eight games of the 2011 campaign, will coach Vanderbilt defensive backs and serve as the defensive recruiting coordi-

George Barlow

Josh Gattis

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postseason women’s basketball games that will be played in Nashville this March, including the SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena and the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament at Memorial Gym.

nator. Gattis, who helped guide Western Michigan to its fifth bowl game as a receivers coach last year, will coach Commodore wide receivers and handle offensive recruiting coordinator duties. Franklin, coming off an AutoZone Liberty Bowl appearance in his first year as Vanderbilt head coach, praised Barlow and Gattis as the newest Commodore coaches. “George and Josh are very intelligent guys who bring tremendous energy to our program,” Franklin said. “They also share our vision of where we believe Vanderbilt football is headed in the future. “George has a proven record as a defensive coach and handled a difficult transition last year with a lot of class in the role of interim head coach. Josh is considered one of the brightest young coaches in the nation and did a remarkable job coaching the receivers at Western Michigan,” Franklin added. Franklin also announced that Sam Williams, who spent three years as an offensive coach at his alma mater, Shepard (W.Va.) University, will work in a quality control role with the Commodore defense.

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interceptions on the year for the Commodore defensive unit—tied for sixth nationally in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision.

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home games for Head Coach Tim Corbin’s baseball team after opening the 2012 season up in Palo Alto, Calif., with three games against Stanford.

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games started last season for the Vanderbilt lacrosse team’s top four returners on defense—senior Taylor Lange, junior Paige Cahill, and freshmen Brandi Byner and Alyssa Dunlap.

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combined points allowed by the men’s basketball team in its first two SEC games of 2012 as the ’Dores held Auburn and South Carolina to 34% shooting.

57,103

fans in attendance at the 2011 AutoZone Liberty Bowl—with the eastern half of the stadium packed full of Black & Gold supporters.

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My Game Margaret Elizabeth Freeman is one of seven freshmen competing this season for Coach Jeremy Organ’s Vanderbilt swimming team. Freeman is a secondgeneration Commodore—her father, Lee (’85), and mother, Mary (’87), both are Vanderbilt grads—and the second member of her family to compete in the Southeastern Conference—her brother, Will, swims at Georgia. Before Freeman and her Commodore teammates take part in the SEC Championships in Knoxville (Feb. 15-18), she sat down with Commodore Nation at the Centennial Sportsplex Pool to discuss her game. On her decision to attend Vanderbilt: “When I was growing up, I thought about going here. And then as I got older, I thought: ‘I don’t really want to go there. That’s where my parents went. I want to do my own thing.’ But after I took my visit here, I realized that Vanderbilt was home, and this was where I wanted to go.” On whether she’s chosen her major concentration: “Not at all. I think that I want to minor in managerial studies on the corporate strategy track, but as far as my major goes I don’t really know. I’m just taking all kinds of classes. I took a public speaking class. I was really nervous for it, but I took it because I felt that it is a skill I need to have. I ended up really enjoying that.” On living in the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons: “It’s all about community. I’m really close with the girls on my hall, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get to know them if it weren’t for all the planned activities we had in the beginning.” On the swim team’s freshman class: “We’re all really close, which I’m excited about. Elly [Faulkner] and I are actually the only swimmers who room together, and I’ve really enjoyed that. That’s what makes swimming really enjoyable: coming here (to the pool) and seeing all of my friends.” On her earliest memories of swimming: “I swam for my neighborhood team in a summer league. The very first summer my parents signed me up, I wouldn’t swim. I didn’t want to lose and I couldn’t win, so I just didn’t swim. My brother was the first one to decide to swim year-round. That’s how I got into it, and it just continued. He’s a sophomore at Georgia. We both swim distance free, but that’s kind of his thing, and butterfly’s more of my thing.”

Liz Freeman 8

F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 2

STEVE GREEN

On her practice and pre-race routines: “I have a new one: at the end of every practice, I blow ring bubbles. Scuba divers do them. You’re upside down, you hold your nose and blow out, and it’s like a giant ring. That’s my new superstition: if you do that at the end of practice, you’ll have a good next practice. Pre-race, I always stretch my hamstrings, shake out my arms, then dip my goggles in the water and de-fog them. I just think about how I’ve put all the work in, and this is just a test of that. I don’t get too nervous.” n


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the

BLACK & GOLDEN age

J

ust days before the Commodores played in the 2011 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Vice Chancellor David Williams received a phone call from a concerned parent. It was Tish Hayward calling about her son, Casey. With the fall semester of Casey’s senior season complete, the fourth-year student-athlete was just 13 credits shy of his earning his sociology degree. Tish wanted to make sure there was a way for Casey to finish his degree while balancing the busy schedule required of someone preparing for the National Football League draft. Casey earned All-America honors this past season while tying Leonard Coleman for the school’s all-time lead with 15 career interceptions. He’ll play in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., at the end of January and hopes to be invited to the NFL Combine at the end of February in Indianapolis. “Here’s a mother that could be thinking about the money that her son could make by going to the NFL,” Williams said. “But she’s calling because she wants to make sure his education can continue. I told her, ‘You don’t have to worry. We’re gonna work on that.’” When Williams saw Casey days later in Memphis, the star cornerback already had discussed the plan for those 13 hours with his mother. And when, in early January, Williams took a call from Casey’s agent—a Vandy law grad—the agent wanted to know what he could do to help the process. All parties involved were invested in making sure that 22-year-old Casey Hayward, a future professional football player, becomes a Vanderbilt graduate.

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“We have it so implanted on where the priorities are,” Williams said. “Casey will play in the NFL. I hope he’s All-Pro and he makes it into the Hall of Fame. But Casey’s also going to have a Vanderbilt degree, and I’m probably going to be more proud of that fact. We’re gonna make sure that happens, and he’s gonna make sure that happens.” While Vanderbilt student-athletes are excelling on the field of play, their success in the classroom remains a priority. That dual emphasis is the basis of Williams’ “winning the right way” philosophy. Commodores’ Greatest Calendar Year? The first half of the “winning the right way” philosophy? Winning. And the Commodores did a lot of that over the past 12 months. The football team’s trip to the Liberty Bowl, a journey that included approximately 32,000 of Mr. C’s closest friends, wrapped up what could be the most successful calendar year in the history of Commodore athletics. In 2011, nine of Vanderbilt’s varsity teams advanced to the NCAA championship play. Stories of unprecedented success became commonplace around McGugin. For the ninth time in school history, both the men’s and women’s basketball programs earned berths in the NCAA Tournament last March. The women were making their 12th consecutive trip, and the men were in the field for the fourth time in five years. In April, the bowling team earned a spot in the eight-team NCAA Championship field and

made it all the way to the title match before coming up just short of winning its second national championship. The men’s and women’s tennis teams received bids to their respective NCAA Tournaments in May—the 10th time in school history that both squads had been invited. In their 17th consecutive NCAA Tournament, the

WINNING THE RIGHT WAY Major success in all four “major” sports— NCAA Tournament berths in baseball and both men’s and women’s basketball, and a bowl invitation in football—was a feat that only eight schools accomplished during the 2011 calendar year. Looking at the profiles of those eight schools, Vanderbilt sticks out like a sore thumb. An extremely healthy, not-at-allsore sore thumb. The only private institution and the smallest university by a wide margin, Vanderbilt paced the group in the NCAA’s recent graduation success rate (GSR) calculation. School GSR Enrollment Vanderbilt 92 6,747 North Carolina 88 18,430 UCLA 83 27,199 Florida State 79 30,996 Georgia 79 25,947 Kansas State 78 19,205 Texas 74 38,437 Texas A&M 73 39,867

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women’s team upset in-state rival Tennessee to advance to the Sweet 16 for the 12th time in 14 years. That same week, the women’s golf team was competing in the NCAA Championship. Those Commodores earned a Top 10 finish at nationals for the second consecutive season— a first in the history of that esteemed program. And who could forget the baseball team’s epic run to Omaha, when the ’Dores reeled off five straight wins at Hawkins Field to earn their first trip to the College World Series? Summer break was shortened by a month due to the baseball team’s run into late June, and when school returned in the fall the football team carried on VU’s momentum by winning the first three games of James Franklin’s tenure. October and November were owned by the women’s cross country team. After breaking onto the national scene with a secondplace finish at the prestigious Wisconsin/ adidas Invitational, the Commodore runners dominated the Southeastern Conference Championships, placed second at the NCAA Regional and placed in the Top 10 of their first-ever NCAA Championship meet. Formula for Success Vice Chancellor Williams, who was given oversight of athletics in 2003, believes that Vanderbilt’s success is all about people. “It’s a tribute to the fact that we have really good coaches and phenomenal student-athletes,” Williams said. “When we started this, we felt very strongly that if you construct a scenario where you had good coaches who

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BLACK & GOLD BOOM It is definitely getting easier to sport black and gold. And not only from the perspective of fan pride during VU’s current run of success. Over the past five years, revenue created by the licensing of Vanderbilt marks for use on products has increased by 47 percent. Last fiscal year saw the highest royalty collection in the short history of Vanderbilt’s licensing program. According to Maggie Huckaba, Vanderbilt’s director of trademark licensing, this year is on pace to again break new ground. “Currently, we are up 17 percent over this time last year,” Huckaba said in January. “The College World Series and the Liberty Bowl have definitely saw themselves as having an ability to mentor and teach, and you gave them the things they needed to succeed, and you brought in kids who really are sincere about their athletics and their academics, and stress that stuff and treat them fairly, that they’ll perform on the playing fields. That’s what we’ve seen.” In the past, any measure of success at Vanderbilt undoubtedly would have led to coaches being pulled away by bigger universities with seemingly never-ending budgets. But Vanderbilt

impacted our increase. I know we had at least four reorders of Liberty Bowl products.” Huckaba highlights Nike’s sideline apparel program and a partnership with Old Navy through the Tailgate Clothing Co. as two contributors to Vanderbilt’s increased exposure. Having a new headquarters for Vanderbilt’s official campus store—the Barnes & Noble Vanderbilt at 2525 West End Ave.—also has contributed the licensing program’s success. “The location, different assortment of products and a number of new product lines have all helped to create a new excitement of Vanderbilt products,” Huckaba said. has made a concerted effort to be competitive with other schools in terms of compensation for coaches, and Williams has noticed that his particular group is more interested in putting Vanderbilt’s teams in positions to be successful than in being rewarded monetarily. When women’s basketball Coach Melanie Balcomb was courted by another school, she asked Williams to update the team’s sub-par locker room. A few years later it was a new court surface in Memorial Gymnasium that would


BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPOTLIGHT Robert Vowels

The baseball team swept through NCAA Regional and Super Regional action at Charles Hawkins Field last June on its way to the College World Series.

help the Commodore basketball team remain competitive and keep their excellent coach. Tim Corbin reportedly had opportunities to coach for more prestigious “baseball schools,” but he opted to oversee major improvements to facilities at Vanderbilt—from the noticeable upgrade of Hawkins Field to the less-visible construction of a pitching lab beneath Vanderbilt Stadium. Others are taking note of the success that Williams and his group have produced. Roy Kramer, who served as Vanderbilt’s director of athletics before a groundbreaking career as commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, knows firsthand the challenges that are faced on West End. “They have done a remarkable job both in improving facilities and in hiring and retaining outstanding coaches,” Kramer said. “That was not always the case in the past. Now I see a number of great coaches who are committed to the program and university, and that continuity is paying very big dividends. Vanderbilt has built a name for itself on the national athletic stage, and their success has occurred during a time when the Southeastern Conference is having its heyday, not just in football, but in all sports across the board.”

The bowling team reached the NCAA finals in 2011, narrowly missing a second national title.

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Onward and Upward If congratulations are in order on Jess Neely Drive, no one has told the senior athletic administration. New challenges lie ahead that Williams and his staff already are undertaking, not the least of which is the growing price of business. Vanderbilt is making a number of improvements to the McGugin Center, including enhanced meeting rooms for football and upgraded locker rooms for a number of Olympic sports. Williams also recently announced plans for a multipurpose indoor facility that will include a full-size turf field and a regulation track. And there always will be improvements to make which seldom will be free, so finding ways to create more revenue—whether increasing current revenue streams or tapping new ones—is key. “In terms of revenue, I think there’s some low-hanging fruit for us, if you like,” Williams said. “We could certainly stand an increased amount of people coming to football games. That would produce some revenue. We need people to give more. When you look at our annual rate of giving to athletics, it’s by far the lowest in the SEC.” Sparking fan involvement lies at the heart of Vanderbilt’s ability to continue to grow and excel. “We have to start to think more and more about how we interact with our fans, with our supporters, with our donors; that’s the challenge going forward,” Williams said. “How do we get people motivated? There has to be something more than what they can get watching that 60-inch flat screen. We’re going to open up next year against South Carolina on a Thursday night, and the goal is that Dudley Field will be full with black and gold.” Williams hopes the Commodores can ride their current wave of momentum, building trust within a fan base by continuing “winning the right way.” He believes this is a crucial time to show that the success of the 2011 calendar year was more systemic than fluky. If Williams is right, this “Year of Black and Gold” looks prime to spark a true “Black and Golden Age.” n

When Robert Vowels was brought to Nashville as the assistant athletic director for compliance in 1990, he was the first African-American to hold a senior position in the Vanderbilt athletic department. Vowels credits thenathletic director Paul Hoolahan with changing the mindset around Commodore athletics. “It really goes back to Paul Hoolahan’s vision and commitment to diversity and inclusion,” Vowels said. “We wanted to better understand [the African-American] student-athlete experience and how it could be improved. The growth on the athletic administrator side was a logical next phase in the commitment to diversity after better understanding the studentathlete experience.” Vowels recognized that he was a trailblazer and tried to set a positive example. “I wanted to do well and learn the business because I did realize that more opportunities would develop for other talented ethnic minority administrators,” he said. Vowels has excelled at every level of athletic administration. A graduate of Duke and North Carolina Central Law School, Vowels currently serves as the vice president of studentathlete affairs for the NCAA. He also spent six years as the commissioner of the Southwestern Athletic Conference after working with the Big Ten and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Vanderbilt’s commitment to diversity has not wavered in the past 20 years. It is part of Vice Chancellor David Williams’ belief that doing things the right way leads to success. “When you stick to that core values system—diversity, academics, integrity—the other things work themselves out because you’re doing it for the right reasons,” Williams said. “We’re not going to do diversity just for diversity’s sake, but we are going to have things open for all people, and we’re going to celebrate the diversity it creates.” n

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F E B R U A RY 2 0 1 2


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e arrived in Nashville on Aug. 22, 1983, eager to join a vibrant Vanderbilt athletic program whose football program was coming off a bowl appearance. C.M. Newton was in his third year as basketball coach. Roy Kramer and trusted deputy George Bennett were Big Men in Town. Things were buzzing; the future was bright. We told our Midwest friends that while we didn’t expect to win national championships at academic Vanderbilt, we assumed a bowl game would be more likely than not. We expected to be annual basketball contenders, and we’d see lots of great baseball. It took over a quarter century, but our optimistic outlook has come true. We’ve been antsy at times, but in retrospect, it’s been worth the wait because success tastes so much sweeter when it doesn’t come easily. Eddie Fogler once explained that there was a big difference between a good team and a good program. A good team can pop out of the abyss for a year or two and then disappear, while good programs constantly produce winners. For too long, Vanderbilt athletics followed this pattern, but the worm has turned. We not only want good programs, we expect them these days. We are as tickled as can be when one of our teams achieves something special, but the days of being surprised by success are over. That puts our expectations ahead of the typical outsider’s stereotype. We have the benefit of knowing what is in the tool kit that each of our programs carries into the year. In nearly every case, when put in context with our natural resources—like Nashville and the SEC—it provides a significant foundation from which to build. It is often said in athletics that you are either getting better or getting worse. That is a motivating statement for many athletes, who don’t rest on recent laurels but rather push themselves toward bigger goals. That is where Vanderbilt Athletics finds itself today. True, the 2011 calendar year was a memorable one and quite possibly the best 12 months in Commodore history. We celebrated those highwater marks for a day and then got back to work. There is so much more to do. Like what, you wonder? We want to hang some championship banners. We will continue our hallmark tradition of academic excellence and leadership. We want to bring some of our less-successful programs up to NCAA Tournament snuff. We plan to bring the finest student-athletes in the nation to our campus and challenge them with tremendous competition every day, be it in a chemistry lab or staring down an SEC opponent at crunch time. It would be convenient if we could do all of this by ourselves, but we cannot. When Lou Holtz was asked about how he spun Notre Dame out of its doldrums and into a bona fide contender, he said his job was to get everyone pulling in the same direction. He meant team, administration, alumni and fans. That also is our mission. For most of our time on this great campus, we’ve heard lukewarm fans say wistfully, “If only Vandy could be competitive, I’d get involved.” Those of you receiving this magazine are involved, but too many others are sitting on the sidelines, perhaps stuck in the ’90s, or the ’60s. Enlarging our circle of support is crucial. We need to sell 20,000 football season tickets to Vanderbilt boosters this fall; we must increase participation and revenue in the NCC. Let’s proudly wear licensed Vanderbilt gear. And let’s get others to do the same. Let’s re-create that sublime Memphis feeling when 30,000 likeminded ’Dores assembled New Year’s eve. Perhaps 2012 will be even greater than 2011. We all have to work together to make it happen. n

JAMES O DONNELL

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By Ashley Crosby

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Steve and Dana (Turner) Reece have been married nearly 25 years.

s ’ t l i vanderb S E N TI N E L A V

Lauren (Price) and Chuck Losey have settled down in Nashville, where Chuck was hired to work at his alma mater last winter.

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ne day in November of 1987, Dana Turner got a phone call from her boyfriend, Steve Reece, asking if he could come visit her on the 11th—a Wednesday—from Atlanta. “I discouraged it because I was so busy at work and couldn’t take any time off,” she remembered. “But he insisted, and I definitely wanted to see him.” What she didn’t know was that Steve had already worked out a special surprise with her roommate, fellow Vanderbilt graduate Colleen (Desch) Friddell. Dana and Steve had been dating for five years, since the two Commodore basketball stars met at a street band party. “Depending on which one of us you ask, he either pursued me or I pursued him. It’s probably accurate to say it was both,” she laughed. Whichever way you look at it, the two had their first date in October of 1983, taking in a Vanderbilt football game, dinner, and Tom Cruise’s “All the Right Moves.” “We spent the whole day together, and it was so much fun,” Dana said. “Our schedules were quite hectic with all the traveling we both did for basketball, so I remember how much fun it was to see him after a long road trip. We loved to hang out with our friends and go out to eat. Steve loves my mother’s cooking, and she loves to feed him, so he frequently suggested we ‘go visit my parents.’” Fast-forward four years to November 11th. “I walked into an apartment with rose petals leading to a beautiful, candlelit table with more roses and a delicious steak dinner he had prepared himself,” Dana said. “It was amazing and romantic. He asked me to marry him down on one knee, to which I said, ‘yes!’” The rest, as they say, is history, as the couple married on May 21 of the next year. Now, their older daughter is a freshman at Samford University, playing forward on the Bulldogs’ basketball team, while their younger daughter plays volleyball for her high school team. “Our main role today is to sit in the bleachers and cheer,” Dana said. The Reeces aren’t the only former Vanderbilt athletes to marry their sweethearts from their years on the fields and in the classrooms in Nashville. The list is quite extensive. A few recent highlights include: Anna Carr, a track athlete, married football player Jared Hawkins; baseball star Jeremy Sowers and soccer player Ashley Duffy married in 2007; Bobby Reynolds and Josie Hahn, tennis and track athletes, have been married for three years; football alumnus Ian Gaines recently wed runner Paige Roberts; and Chuck and Lauren (Price) Losey, football and track graduates, have remained in Nashville since marrying. Ashley Sowers remembers meeting her now-husband, Jeremy, in January of 2003. “We were set up by two former teammates at a dinner one night. We sat next to each other, and just ended up getting along really well.”

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Their first real date came when Jeremy brought her to the baseball team’s annual banquet. “Married life is a lot of fun, and it’s nice to have an athletic partner to play and watch sports together,” said Ashley, also making note that the couple loves going to the Pancake Pantry—their favorite food stop in Nashville. Ashley and Jeremy got engaged on Valentine’s Day in 2006, right before Jeremy left for spring training with the Cleveland Indians. Five years later, the two welcomed their first daughter, Brooklyn Sowers, into their budding family. Lauren and Chuck Losey found their way together in Nashville, where Chuck now is a strength coach for the football team—a program for which he played from 1998 to 2001. “We were friends for two years before we started dating,” said Lauren. The two met in class their freshman year before they decided to take the first step towards dating. “Chuck took me to Longhorn Steakhouse. I thought it was a funny first date, but Chuck wanted to make sure I wasn’t stuck up and really liked him for who he was.” Chuck’s take is a little different. “I guess you could say it was a test of sorts. Or maybe I just liked Longhorn?” The couple’s path to married life had its own bump in the road, as the two split after graduation and Lauren moved to Denver. But life has its way of bringing people back together. “We had been broken up for almost a year

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Jeremy and Ashley (Duffy) Sowers met in 2003 as sophomores and were engaged three years later. They recently celebrated the birth of their first daughter, Brooklyn.

after college,” Chuck remembered. “I was still living in Nashville when she came into town for homecoming and we saw each other at Tin Roof. After that, I knew we’d get married.” Which they did, right on campus. “Being able to get married in the chapel on Vanderbilt’s campus, it was very special for us to be married where we first met,” said Lauren. For all the couples, the sentiment was the

same, whether they were going on two years or 20 years of marriage—they all felt lucky to have their spouses. “I married my best friend; the most kind, loving, hard-working, wonderful person I know. And he is still romantic,” said Dana. “I think a successful marriage is one in which you have absolutely no doubt in your mind that you’ll face all the bumps in the road together.” n


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Head Coach Tim Corbin gave Commodore Nation a preview of what fans can expect from the 2012 baseball team...

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Pitching: “We are all aware of the fact that we lost a lot of quality arms from last year’s group, but that will be a great thing for the kids who have been very patient waiting their turn. Sam Selman and Kevin Ziomek have emerged as starting candidates, while Will Clinard and junior college transfer Drew Verhagen will also be in that mix.”

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Outfield: “This may be the strongest area of the team. All three kids from last year’s CWS team are back—they can run, they possess strong arms and they are intelligent. Not to mention that our fourth outfielder, Jack Lupo, is one of the best athletes on the team.”

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Baseball Preview

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Infield: “We are fortunate that we return both players up the middle. Riley [Reynolds] is as consistent as any player that we have had, and Anthony [Gomez] played the shortstop position very well in his first year. Conrad Gregor and Andrew Harris will both compete for the first-base spot, while Joel McKeithan and Vince Conde will look to fill the void at third base.”

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Catching: “When you have a kid that has caught in your program for five years like Drew Fann, it is like adding another coach to your staff. Drew understands Coach Johnson and our pitchers very well. Both Spencer Navin and Chris Harvey possess the tools that will make them very effective in time— they just need reps at this point.” n

4CORBIN WITH...

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Baseball Preview

Don’t Rule Out Pecoraro for 2012 Yet By Eric Jones

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hen we last left freshman T.J. Pecoraro, he was heading into summer ecstatic that the Commodores had made their first-ever trip to College World Series. But that excitement was tempered by the frustration of not being able to throw a pitch at Omaha’s TD Ameritrade Park. Pecoraro left in the fourth inning of his May 25 SEC Tournament start against Georgia with a torn ligament in his pitching elbow, cutting short a phenomenal freshman campaign. He found watching much tougher. “It was okay at first. I didn’t mind, and the team was winning,” remembers Pecoraro, who was a perfect 7-0 and held batters to a .183 batting average last year. “I was having a great time watching, but when it started to get to me was when I actually had to sit in the stands and watch them play, and I couldn’t be with them. I said to myself, ‘This really stinks.’ I decided not to go to Omaha so that I could start rehabbing right away and get back as soon as possible. That was the better choice for me.” Pecoraro enters 2012 with a single goal: He wants to pitch for the Commodores this season. But the ulnar transplant surgery that he had in June usually takes between a year and 18 months of rehabilitation. The procedure has been refined and overhauled since longtime major leaguer Tommy John became the guinea pig of Dr. Frank Jobe’s then-revolutionary surgery in 1974. Still the road to recovery is different for each athlete who requires “T.J.” surgery. “T.J. knows the line between getting the work in and working hard, but not overdoing it,” said Chris Ham, who is Vanderbilt baseball’s athletic trainer. Ham has overseen the same surgery rehab for former Commodores Curt Casali and Mark Lamm. “The maturity level of [Pecoraro] is through the roof. It’s an education process for most guys in terms of rehabilitation and knowing their body. T.J. gets that and knows what he has to do to get back to (being) that pitcher that allowed one hit against Georgia in the SEC Tournament. Nothing would surprise me about his rehab.” Tommy John suffered his injury on July 17, 1974, and did not return to game action until April 1976, more than 18 months later. Pecoraro is hoping that he can cut the original T.J.’s timeframe in half and get back out on the mound to put up some meaningful innings for the Commodores this season. To make a comeback in less than a year would be an incredible feat and a real shot in the arm for the Commodores’ young pitching staff, but no one is willing to risk the long-term benefits of having Pecoraro as part of the rotation. “T.J. is very methodical and on-task with his rehab process, which is no surprise. He had a very strong foundation for pitching when he arrived on campus and this foundation has allowed him to work through the recovery period since the surgery,” explained Head Coach Tim Corbin. “We have put no timetable on when he will be able to pitch this year. He is very eager to get back on the mound competitively, but this is about his long-term success. We will take the time that’s needed to make sure that he is fully recovered and healed. When he’s ready, T.J. and everyone surrounding him will be mentally secure in having him out there.” n

Follow the Vanderbilt baseball team

@VandyBaseball

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Even after having Tommy John surgery last summer, sophomore T.J. Pecoraro could contribute to the Commodore rotation this spring.


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last shots

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STEVE GREEN , JOE HOWELL, JOHN RUSSELL / VU PHOTOGRAPHY

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ommodore fans flocked to Memphis in December for the 2011 AutoZone Liberty Bowl. From parties on Beale Street to the ’Dore Alley that welcomed the football team to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, the Black and Gold was out in full force for the fifth bowl appearance in Vanderbilt history. Senior defensive back Casey Hayward had two interceptions and eight tackles to earn Defensive MVP honors for VU. Senior quarterback Larry Smith threw for 142 yards and a touchdown, all in the second half, and was named the team’s Offensive MVP.



Commodore Nation, February 2012