Bennett Catches Promotion

Vanderbilt football legend named senior associate athletic director for strategy and business operations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Legendary Vanderbilt wide receiver Earl Bennett has been promoted to senior associate athletic director for strategy and business operations. University Vice Chancellor and Athletic Director Candice Storey Lee announced the new role for Bennett on Wednesday.

Bennett returned to his alma mater in 2021 to join the football staff under the direction of fellow Vanderbilt alumnus, head football coach Clark Lea. He began as the team’s director of player development and was later promoted to executive director of player development and administration.

In his new role, Bennett will partner with Ena Patel, chief of staff for athletics and University affairs, to establish and support department-wide strategic initiatives.  In addition, Bennett will continue to support football operations in recruiting, administration and development of name, image and likeness (NIL) strategy, among other management responsibilities.

With the football program, Bennett worked daily with student-athletes, focusing on support for off-the-field areas. He helped coordinate community service initiatives for the team, as well as life skills and career development opportunities alongside the Ingram Center staff.

Bennett returned to Vanderbilt following a six-year career in the NFL, during which he appeared in 78 games for the Chicago Bears. He made 185 receptions for 2,277 yards and 12 touchdowns during his time in Chicago.

As a Commodore, Bennett put together a career that saw him earn a spot in the Vanderbilt Hall of Fame in 2017 and status as an SEC Legend in 2015.

He earned All-SEC honors during all three seasons on West End, catching 236 passes for 2,852 yards and 20 touchdowns. He departed Nashville as the Southeastern Conference’s career leader in receptions, and he remains tied for the most touchdown catches in a game in SEC history (five vs. Kentucky in 2005).

Bennett holds two diplomas from Vanderbilt, an undergraduate degree in educational studies and a master’s in learning, diversity and urban studies, and earned his doctorate from Houston in higher education leadership and policy studies.